Coming off one of his best outings of the season, R.A. Dickey will take the mound when the Blue Jays face the Pirates in the second game of an Interleague series Saturday at PNC Park.
After battling control problems through most of April, Dickey capped off the month on a high note, not issuing a single walk in his 6 1/3-inning performance against the Red Sox on Sunday. Dickey (2-3) overcame what was a series of middle-inning struggles in his earlier starts to put up the one-run, six-strikeout win.
"I felt better. It's a step in the right direction," said the 39-year-old knuckleballer. "Through that fifth and sixth inning, they were clean innings. Throwing good pitches, and had good action on the knuckleball."
It was the first time Dickey hadn't walked a batter as a Blue Jay. The last time he pitched a game without issuing a walk was with the Mets in 2012.
"When I have one to two to zero walks, it's usually going to be a pretty good day, and that's what I need to get back to, and like I said, [it] was a good step in that direction," he said.
Dickey will go up against Pirates lefty Francisco Liriano, who'll be looking to bounce back after leaving his last start after three innings due to illness. Liriano had a nosebleed after the second inning, though he said he frequently gets them.
"I went to the hospital because of that once, but they don't know what it is," Liriano said, shrugging. "My mother and father also got nosebleeds. ... I just felt weak."
Liriano (0-3) is still looking for his first win of the season, despite pitching well so far. He has recorded a 3.97 ERA through six starts, and, with exception of his last appearance, hasn't pitched fewer than six innings in a game.
Blue Jays: Club recalls Kratz
Catcher Erik Kratz was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo on Friday. To make room on the roster, the Blue Jays optioned reliever Chad Jenkins to Buffalo.
Kratz posted a .273 batting average in 12 games this season for the Bisons, notching four doubles, a home run and five RBIs. In seven games with Toronto this season, the 33-year-old batted .200 (2-10) with a home run and four RBIs.
Pirates: Depending on the long ball
Toronto manager John Gibbons recently expressed a wish for greater offensive versatility beyond home runs, but the Bucs have been even more dependent on long balls to win.
Pittsburgh owns a record of 6-2 in games it homers at least twice in, and 5-16 otherwise.
"We're improving, and are working hard to make it better," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "We've been getting guys on base regularly, but have lacked that big hit with men in scoring position."
• Mark Buehrle and Melky Cabrera were co-winners of the Honda Player of the Month award for April as selected by the Toronto Chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Buehrle posted a 4-1 record through five starts in April with a 2.16 ERA. Cabrera, meanwhile, led all Major Leaguers with 41 hits, posting a .342 batting average with 15 extra base hits and 11 RBIs.
• Last year, Pittsburgh's pitching staff recorded a 1.63 ERA in 10 games against American League teams at PNC Park.
• Mark Melancon became the Pirates' closer when Jason Grilli went on the disabled list on April 26, but the team hasn't had save situation since April 19.
Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.