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Dickey delivers solid start after trying week

MLB.com Reporter @gregorMLB

ST. PETERSBURG -- R.A. Dickey took the mound with a heavy heart Tuesday night, and while he's understandably not ready to talk publicly about the loss of his father, it's clear the past seven days have taken a toll.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- R.A. Dickey took the mound with a heavy heart Tuesday night, and while he's understandably not ready to talk publicly about the loss of his father, it's clear the past seven days have taken a toll.

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Dickey's father passed away on June 16 following a sudden heart attack. The local media has respected his privacy during this trying time, and Dickey's request after a 4-3 loss to the Rays was for the focus to be on the field instead of events that occurred away from it.

That Dickey was able to take the mound at all is a testament to his character, and even though he wasn't able to go through his normal routine between starts, it didn't have any impact on his performance. The knuckleball was moving all over the place, and the end result was seven quality innings at Tropicana Field.

"I was kind of foggy today," Dickey said after his outing. "It has been a tough week so I haven't gotten to prepare the way that I normally do, but I was able to repeat my mechanics enough.

"I felt good out there, my velocities were still good, my release point was still good. Thankfully I have enough muscle memory built in there where I can afford to have a week like that and still be OK. It wasn't much of an issue."

Dickey deserved a better outcome after allowing three runs on eight hits with two strikeouts in his second consecutive quality start. The problem was that Chris Archer was on the mound for Tampa Bay, and that usually means bad things for opposing teams, even one with the top-ranked offense in the Major Leagues.

Archer entered the fifth inning with a perfect game and surrendered a total of two runs -- one earned -- over eight innings. Dickey had a shot for a similar line, but a pair of passed balls charged to Russell Martin and a throwing error by Kevin Pillar in the fifth created some tricky situations.

Though results like that happen from time to time, Dickey instead will focus on the fact that he has allowed three earned runs or fewer in his past five starts. Dickey has a 3.09 ERA over that span compared with the 5.77 ERA he had through 10 starts this year. He's starting to get on a roll, and a lot of that goes back to some adjustments made after an outing vs. the Astros on May 15.

"It can't be easy," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Dickey's difficult week leading up to this start. "He did a great job tonight, he just ran into the wrong starter.

"He shut our offense down ... that just tells you how good Archer is, the way we've been swinging it, we've been hot. I tip my hat to R.A., I can't imagine myself doing it."

Video: TOR@TB: Butler crosses the dish on throwing errorDickey allowed one run in the second inning on an RBI single by Brandon Guyer, which scored Asdrubal Cabrera after he advanced to second on a wild pitch. In the fifth, Dickey surrendered two more. The first came on an RBI single by Joey Butler, and the second run was added two batters later when Butler scored all the way from second on a flyout to center field because of Pillar's throwing error.

It was a very strong outing but in the end not quite good enough. Archer was the main reason for that, and while Dickey doesn't want to dig deep into the past quite yet, he did want to express his gratitude for the way his teammates and coaches have rallied around him in recent days.

"I can say this, about the organization and my teammates, the support I received from those guys, some of the classiest moves I've ever been associated with in baseball," Dickey said. "It made me feel really good to have guys stand up behind me and carry me a little ways."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook.

Toronto Blue Jays, R.A. Dickey