Dickey sharp in duel, unpleased with result

Knuckleballer racks up 6 K's in tough matchup against Zimmermann

Dickey sharp in duel, unpleased with result

WASHINGTON -- There were plenty of positives to take out of R.A. Dickey's outing on Tuesday afternoon, but he knows all too well that this isn't the time for moral victories.

Toronto is desperately looking for wins, and no matter how well Dickey might have pitched, it wasn't enough on Tuesday afternoon as the Blue Jays fell, 2-0, to the Nationals.

The only positive to take from the club's recent skid is that the rest of the American League East is struggling as well. That has allowed the Blue Jays to at least survive over the last couple of weeks, but Dickey knows it's not going to stay that way forever.

"That's in the back of our mind, but that's not going to cut it," Dickey said, in reference to the division after allowing two runs over six innings to Washington. "There are no moral victories in this game. You have to win, and that's the end of it."

Dickey had the unenviable task of being matched up against one of the league's best pitchers in Jordan Zimmermann on Tuesday afternoon. Dickey knew going into the game there would not be a lot of room for error, and one minor issue in the fifth inning was all it took to come out on the wrong side.

Toronto's knuckleballer allowed a pair of leadoff singles before Ian Desmond put runners on second and third with a sacrifice bunt. Dickey then surrendered an RBI single up the middle to Bryce Harper. A sacrifice fly made it 2-0, and that was more than enough for Zimmermann and Washington to cruise the rest of the way.

It's yet another frustrating setback to an organization that finds itself seven games under .500 going into Game 2 of Tuesday's doubleheader. The Blue Jays have lost three of their last four games on the road and will need to turn things around in a hurry to remain in the thick of the division.

One cause for optimism, at least for Dickey, is that his swing-and-miss knuckleball has returned. Earlier this year he went through a stretch where he struck out a total of four batters over four starts, but in the four outings since then he struck out 21.

"The last three outings I've been getting a lot of swings and misses," Dickey said. "I feel like I've been working on some stuff in the 'pen with [pitching coach] Pete [Walker], although my last outing, I think I gave up five and five, I still got a lot of swings and misses and felt good about my pitch.

"It's a long season, yes, but we have to start winning some games to take advantage of some teams spinning their wheels in our division."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.