R.A. Dickey is still searching for the lightning he bottled last year, when he parlayed unprecedented command and control of his knuckleball into an incredible Cy Young season.

Not only did he throw the pitch harder than any of his knuckleball predecessors — reaching into the low 80s on the radar gun — he also showed he could harness the pitch in ways previously unseen, throwing it consistently for strikes and changing elevation at will.

His ability to control the uncontrollable was what led him to lead the National League in strikeouts and innings pitched, while posting a 2.73 ERA.

But as he adjusts to a new team and a new league this year, the early part of his tenure with the Blue Jays has been something of a struggle for the 38-year-old. He has battled nagging back and neck pain through most of his nine starts — which has limited his arm strength and his use of his fastest knuckleball, his primary strikeout weapon — while also adjusting to more patient American League hitters, who have been less inclined to chase his darting pitches.

Though the sample size is still small, Dickey is walking almost two more batters for every nine innings this year, compared to last, while also giving up 50 per cent more home runs.

As a result, he is using more pitches and is having to be removed earlier from games.

While he averaged more than seven innings a start last year, only once this season has he pitched through the seventh and he has yet to pitch into the eighth.

Tuesday was another example of Dickey getting closer to his old self, but still not quite getting there.

He held the San Francisco Giants to just a pair of hits while striking out 10, but he walked two and lasted only six innings, getting the hook after 115 pitches.

“I have not been as efficient as I’m accustomed to being with my pitch counts,” he said afterward.

But on a night when his teammates compiled a season-high 18 hits, Dickey’s outing was more than enough for the offensively rejuvenated Jays, who defeated the reigning World Series champs 10-6 in front of an announced Rogers Centre crowd of 31,753.

Since being shut out by Jon Lester and the Red Sox on Friday, the Jays have scored 25 runs while amassing 38 hits over their last three games.

“It was a real community win tonight,” Dickey said.