By Stephen Hawkins
The Associated Press
---- — ARLINGTON, Texas — Toronto Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was feeling a bit nostalgic even without his best stuff. Former Highland star Adam Lind and Colby Rasmus just hit the ball hard.
Lind and Rasmus both hit two-run homers while Dickey worked into the sixth inning against his original team, as the Blue Jays stretched their winning streak to four games with a 6-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday.
"This was a game when I didn't have my best knuckleball. I had a good enough one to survive the outing, but not much more," Dickey said.
It was in Texas eight years ago that Dickey started using the knuckleball as his primary pitch. He won the NL Cy Young Award last year pitching for the New York Mets, and is having an up-and-down first season with the Blue Jays.
Though he allowed 10 base runners (seven singles and three walks), Dickey allowed only one run over 5 2-3 innings.
"Even when he's not at his best, he competes," manager John Gibbons said. "He battled, got out of some jams."
Even with the unexpected early return of second baseman Ian Kinsler from his rehabilitation assignment, the Rangers' season-long losing streak reached five games. All of those losses are at home, and they've dropped 10 of 14 overall to fall out of first place in the AL West.
They have scored only six runs the past five games, and were 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position Saturday.
"It's just simple baseball, getting base hits with runners in scoring position," manager Ron Washington said. "It's not just one part of the batting order. It's up and down the lineup. We gave ourselves more opportunities today than we have in the last week or so."
Lind put the Blue Jays ahead to stay in the first, when his seventh homer of the season ricocheted high off pole down the right field line. Rasmus hit his 12th homer, and second in two games, in the fourth to make it 4-0.
Those homers accounted for all four runs off Josh Lindblom (0-2), who went six innings on his 26th birthday. The right-hander struck out two in his third start in place of injured Alexi Ogando.
Dickey (6-8) struck out three against the team that took him in the first round of the 1996 draft, and later determined that the right-hander was missing a ligament in his right elbow.
"It's somewhat nostalgic to come back here," said Dickey, who also won his only other start at Rangers Ballpark as an opponent, in 2008 with Seattle. "This is where the discovery about the absence of the ligament was made, this is where I started my knuckleball career. I have a lot of great memories here, and a lot of tough memories here."
Texas, which lost 8-0 on Friday night, ended a 21-inning scoring drought in the sixth. Nelson Cruz and David Murphy had consecutive bloop singles before Chris McGuiness grounded a hit through the right side of the infield. Cruz scored when Leonys Martin beat out a potential inning-ending double-play grounder.
Martin was 3 for 4, getting the RBI on the only at-bat he didn't get a hit.
His fielder's choice ended Dickey's day and the longest scoreless streak by the Rangers since 25 innings in a row without a run in September 2009, also the last time they lost five games in a row at home.
Texas also had the bases loaded in the fourth before McGuiness struck out to end the inning. There were two runners on with no outs in the fifth before Dickey retired the Nos. 2-4 hitters in order.
"We got (Dickey) in trouble a few times. He got out of it," Washington said. "Some of it was him, but most of it was us."
Kinsler, out since May 18 with a ribcage injury, was supposed to stay at Double-A Frisco for at least three games and not expected back before Sunday at the earliest. That changed when after an 11-inning game on Friday night, he declared himself healthy and ready to rejoin the team — even after going 0 for 8 with a walk in the two rehab games.
Texas had a 6 1-2-game lead in the AL West when Kinsler got hurt, but then went 11-14 without the three-time All-Star.
"I was a little off early, but I felt like I had a good at-bat the last at-bat. My timing felt good," Kinsler said. "My legs didn't hurt, so there's no reason why I can't move and play defense."
While he was 0 for 4 with a walk Saturday, Kinsler was involved in a couple of highlight-worthy defensive plays that ended innings without him even. putting his hand on the ball.
When Lindblom deflected Josh Thole's high hopper, Kinsler scooped the ball with his glove and to first base in one motion to end the fourth. An inning later, Kinlser went toward to middle to glove Melky Cabrera's grounder and was stumbling when he pushed the ball toward shortstop Elvis Andrus, who made a nice catch and pivot of his own to complete a double play.