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Rays-Blue Jays Preview

Jul 18, 2015 - 3:58 AM R.A. Dickey's four-start losing streak began when he was victimized by the Tampa Bay Rays nearly a month ago.

The Rays can extend his misery and win for the sixth straight time in a start by Erasmo Ramirez on the road Saturday.

Dickey (3-10, 4.87 ERA) is tied for the AL lead in losses thanks to an 0-4 stretch in which he has posted a 4.56 ERA. That slide began June 23 when he gave up three runs in seven innings in a 4-3 defeat to fall to 0-3 with a 6.11 ERA in three starts against Tampa Bay (46-46) this year.

It has truly been a team effort since no Rays batter has more than two hits off Dickey in 2015. Thirteen of the 20 hits he's allowed to Tampa Bay have been singles.

The knuckleballer yielded two runs over seven innings in a 2-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox in his last outing July 9.

Toronto (46-46) has totaled four runs of support in Dickey's last four outings. The right-hander went into the All-Star break with baseball's second-worst FIP (fielding-independent pitching) at 5.13.

The Blue Jays will try to end a surge by Ramirez (8-3, 3.63), who is 4-0 with a 1.71 ERA in his last five road starts. He improved to 6-1 with a 1.23 ERA in his last eight overall by allowing one run in six innings in last Friday's 3-1 victory over Houston.

The right-hander has gone eight starts in a row in which he has given up two runs or fewer and can match Drew Smyly's current run of nine straight for the second-longest in club history.

Ramirez has come a long way since he went 0-1 with an 11.05 ERA against Toronto in his only two starts in April. Josh Donaldson went 4 for 5 against him and Devon Travis was 3 for 4 with two doubles.

Ramirez will try to find a way to slow down baseball's highest-scoring offense and prevent the big inning, which has been Toronto's specialty. The Blue Jays scored five times in the fifth as Donaldson and Justin Smoak went deep in Friday's 6-2 win.

It was the 19th time Toronto scored at least five runs in an inning. No other team has done it more than 12 times.

"That's what it's about," Donaldson said. "With this offense, we feel it's just a matter of time before we start bunching some runs together."

The Rays dropped to 7-4 in the season series. Four of Tampa Bay's five hits came in the fifth and sixth, but it scored once.

"It didn't seem like we were timed up very well," manager Kevin Cash said.

Grady Sizemore homered and Evan Longoria doubled for Tampa Bay, which has dropped eight of nine on the road. Offense has been a problem all year for the Rays, whose 332 runs at the break were the fewest in franchise history since scoring 308 as an expansion club in 1998.