ATLANTA – R.A. Dickey said he felt good throwing his knuckleball.
His results indicated otherwise.
Dickey gave up six runs and a season-high 11 hits in six innings as his disappointing 2013 season hit another low mark in Toronto's 11-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night.
Dickey (4-7) has allowed six or more runs in four games this season, leaving his ERA at 5.18 one season after he won the NL Cy Young Award with the Mets. He allowed as many as six runs in only one game last season — eight runs in a 14-6 loss to the Braves on April 18, 2012.
"I've just got to trust the process," Dickey said after issuing only one walk with two strikeouts. "Today I felt good. I found the strike zone all day long."
Dickey said he gave up a lot of soft hits.
"I might have given up four hard-hit balls all night," he said. "I mean, it was tough. It seemed like every ball off the bat would find a hole somewhere, or a little space in the outfield.
"This game's tough. It's hard. And you can't quit grinding it out, and you can't quit searching for the answers. I certainly won't. And I'll find it. I'll find it."
Toronto manager John Gibbons said Dickey's velocity on his knuckleball is down.
"He's been battling that, trying to find it," Gibbons said. "He battles you out there. I know that's frustrating him."
Mark DeRosa had a two-run double in the sixth inning as Toronto pulled even at 3-3.
Ramiro Pena drove in four runs with three hits for Atlanta, including a run-scoring single in the bottom of the sixth that gave the Braves the lead.
Freddie Freeman and Reed Johnson homered for Atlanta. Evan Gattis had three hits and Jordan Schafer had two hits, including a two-run single in the sixth.
Pena, Schafer and Gattis made the most of fill-in starts as manager Fredi Gonzalez rested three regulars hitting below .200: outfielders B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward and second baseman Dan Uggla.
Mike Minor (7-2) gave up six hits and three runs — two earned — with five strikeouts and no walks in winning his fourth straight decision.
The Blue Jays scored three runs in the sixth to pull even at 3, but the Braves scored three runs off Dickey in the bottom of the inning. Pena's infield single drove in Gattis, who led off with a single. Schafer singled with two outs to drive in Chris Johnson, who reached on a fielder's choice grounder, and Pena.
"There are some positives that I want to take out of tonight even though it was a tough loss for us and even though it was a tough loss for me personally," Dickey said.
One day after a 3-0 loss to the Blue Jays, the Braves made some lineup changes. Third baseman Juan Francisco, who was sharing time with Chris Johnson, was designated for assignment. Francisco was hitting .241 with five homers, 16 RBIs and 43 strikeouts in 108 at-bats.
Schafer, who hit leadoff and started in center field for Upton, had a first-inning double that bounced over DeRosa at third base. Schafer scored on Andrelton Simmons' single to left.
Gattis, starting in left field, led off the second by slapping a single to right field. Gattis scored on a single to left by Pena, who started for Uggla.
Freeman pushed the lead to 3-0 in the third with his two-out homer off Dickey. The homer came on the night fans received Freeman bobblehead dolls.
Toronto pulled even in the sixth. Dickey led off with an infield single and moved to second when Simmons misplayed Jose Bautista's grounder for an error. Edwin Encarnacion drove in Dickey with a single to center field and DeRosa added a two-run double to right field.
Gonzalez said Minor was "outstanding."
"We misplayed a double-play ball that could have got him out of the inning, but he held his composure," Gonzalez said. "He gave us an opportunity to score some runs. He's just been tremendous."
Reed Johnson hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer off Todd Redmond in the eighth.
NOTES: Dickey has allowed 12 homers this season. ... The Braves selected the contract of LHP Alex Wood from Double-A Mississippi. Wood, a 2012 second-round pick from the University of Georgia, pitched the ninth, allowing one hit, in his major league debut. ... Atlanta improved to 22-3 when scoring first. ... The Braves open a series against NL East rival Washington on Friday night when Julio Teheran (3-1) faces Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg (3-5). The Blue Jays' seven-game road trip continues at San Diego, when Chad Jenkins (1-0) will face Padres RHP Jason Marquis (6-2).