TORONTO -- R.A. Dickey's afternoon didn't start very well, and things didn't get much better as the game progressed.
Dickey allowed six earned runs, including two home runs, and the offense couldn't pick up their struggling starter as the Blue Jays fell, 6-5, to the Orioles at Rogers Centre on Saturday.
"The loss can be hung around my neck today, that's for sure," Dickey said. "When you score five runs when I'm pitching, that should win the game."
The knuckleballer's struggles began early. He faced eight batters in the first, as the Orioles pushed across three runs in the opening frame for the second straight game. Shortstop J.J. Hardy did most of the damage on a two-out single to center that scored two runs.
"It makes it tough," Adam Lind said about the early deficit. "When it happens in the fifth or sixth, you're in the middle of the ballgame, but in the first inning we know we have to climb that mountain from our first at-bat."
Dickey's early struggles resurfaced in the third when Danny Valencia hit a two-out, two-run home run into the second deck in left field to extend the Orioles lead to 5-2.
Following that frame, the knuckleballer seemed to find his rhythm a little bit. Starting in the fourth, Dickey retired nine straight batters, but an Adam Jones home run with two out in the seventh ended his night. Jones' shot, a line drive to left field that hit the facing of the third deck, was his third in as many days vs. the Blue Jays and proved to be the game-winning run.
In 6 2/3 innings, Dickey allowed six earned runs on nine hits and three walks, while striking out four.
"He pitched seven innings almost. That's R.A.," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "They're going to like him. He's a special breed and they're lucky to have him. They get tired of him, pass him our way."
It could've been even worse for the 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner, who was saved from at least two runs on a clutch grab by Melky Cabrera in the fourth. With two men on and the Orioles threatening to blow the game wide open, Jones hit a deep fly ball to left-center field, but Cabrera made a leaping catch as he banged into the wall.
"It's frustrating, because today's a game we should've won," Dickey said. "If I pitch better, we win the game."
Dickey's struggles, especially early, made things a little tougher for the Toronto offense, which had plenty of opportunities to score runs to atone for their starter's rough outing.
The Blue Jays managed to get runners on base in all but three innings and stranded nine runners, as they went 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
"We couldn't come up with that big one," Gibbons said. "That big one to the gap, maybe that big home run to put a few up on the board. But we battled. The guys kept competing."
The best opportunity to at least tie the game came in the eighth inning. The Blue Jays had the tying run on first and the winning run at the plate, when Cabrera hit a single up the middle to draw the game within one. However, Toronto's hottest hitter, Jose Bautista, then grounded out to second baseman Yamaico Navarro to end the threat. It was the last time the Blue Jays had a runner on base.
"Usually when you lose a game, that's how it goes," Lind said. "At least we put ourselves into that position to almost take the lead."
"The guys kept competing, just ended up one short," Gibbons said.
Toronto's offense's inability to find a clutch hit saved Orioles starter Freddy Garcia from a rough night.
Garcia, like Chris Tillman the night before, was lucky to have escaped with minimal damage. Garcia allowed three runs -- two earned -- on nine hits, with one strikeout over five innings on the mound. The righty allowed baserunners in all but one of those innings, but he was able to strand six runners in his short outing.
It also made Garcia the winner, while handing Dickey his sixth loss of the season.
"I'm kind of just punching the clock right now," Dickey said. "I'm searching for it. The journey is always ongoing, [but] I certainly haven't felt like I did last year."
Evan Peaslee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.