TORONTO — After taking a couple of steps forward, R.A. Dickey took another one back.
Danny Valencia hit a two-run homer and Adam Jones added a solo shot to help the Baltimore Orioles beat Dickey and the Toronto Blue Jays 6-5 on Saturday.
Dickey (4-6), who won his previous two starts, matched his loss total from last season with the New York Mets. He allowed six runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings, walked three and struck out four.
"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. There's some concrete reasons for that and there's some reasons I need to iron out in the bullpen in between outings."
Asked to elaborate on those "concrete reasons," Dickey pointed to lingering soreness in his neck and back that has affected his velocity and, he said, still "hasn't completely dissipated."
"I've just been battling some injuries and pitching through some things," he said. "My velocity hasn't been there this year so far, I haven't been able to go to the harder knuckleball."
Valencia connected off Dickey with a second-deck drive in the third inning, his second home run of the season – both in the past two days. Jones chased last year's NL Cy Young Award winner with an even longer drive in the seventh, his ninth of the year and third in three games.
Jones has eight home runs at Rogers Centre since the start of the 2012 season, the most by any opposing player.
The home runs off Dickey were the 10th and 11th he's allowed this season, tying him with four pitchers, including teammates Mark Buehrle and Brandon Morrow, for second-most in the AL.
Baltimore leads the majors with 68 home runs this season, including nine in the past three games.
"We have a team that can drive the ball out of the park," Jones said.
Pitching outdoors on a cool, gusty afternoon didn't make things any easier on Dickey.
"It wasn't ideal conditions but it was OK," he said. "I've pitched just fine in conditions similar to today. That's certainly not an excuse."
Would he have preferred the retractable roof be closed?
"It's hard," he said. "They know what I like and it's up to them to make that decision, you know?"
After Melky Cabrera made a running catch at the wall to retire Jones and strand two runners in the fourth, Dickey retired the next eight in a row before Jones took him deep.
"In the middle innings he was very good," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Baltimore's Buck Showalter agreed.
"He's a special breed and they're lucky to have him," Showalter said. "If they get tired of him, pass him our way."
The Orioles won for the fourth time in five games following a season-long, six-game losing streak.
Freddy Garcia (1-2) allowed three runs and nine hits in five innings to win for the first time since Aug. 15, 2012, when he beat Texas while pitching for the New York Yankees. Garcia walked none and struck out one.
"In the third, fourth and fifth innings I had a better feel for the ball and I pitched better," Garcia said.
Steve Johnson struck out five in 2 2-3 innings, Darren O'Day got one out and Jim Johnson closed it out in the ninth for his 15th save in 18 chances, snapping a streak of three straight blown saves. Johnson's save was his first since May 10 at Minnesota.
Chris Davis hit an RBI double and J.J. Hardy added a two-run single as the Orioles took a 3-0 lead in the first. Baltimore has led 3-0 in all three games of this series, winning twice.
"It makes it tough," Blue Jays DH Adam Lind said of the early deficits. "You know you've got to start to climb that mountain from our first at bat."
Lind took the first steps on that climb with an RBI single in the bottom half and Emilio Bonifacio cut it to 3-2 with a one-out homer in the second, his second.
Valencia's homer made it 5-2, but Toronto got one back in the fifth when Garcia made a throwing error on Brett Lawrie's grounder, allowing Jose Bautista to score from third.
Jones made it 6-3 with a two-out shot in the seventh, but the Blue Jays rallied with two in the eighth. Johnson left after giving up an RBI single to Munenori Kawasaki, and Cabrera drove in Toronto's fifth run with a single off O'Day.
"We made a run at it, we just came up short," Gibbons said.
NOTES: Blue Jays RHP Josh Johnson (sore triceps) allowed one hit over four scoreless innings in a rehab start at Triple-A Buffalo. Johnson is expected to make one more rehab start before rejoining the Blue Jays. ... Toronto recalled RHP Thad Weber from Buffalo to replace LHP Sean Nolin, who was sent back to Double-A after making his major league debut in Friday's 10-6 loss. ... Baltimore placed RHP Pedro Strop (lower back strain) on the 15-day DL and recalled Johnson from Triple-A Norfolk. ... After starting 15-0 when scoring five or more runs, Toronto lost for the second straight game despite reaching the five-run mark