Mariners-Blue Jays Preview

The Associated Press

Some back and neck pain won't keep R.A. Dickey from making his next start.

The knuckleballer looks to avoid a third straight defeat while trying to help keep the Toronto Blue Jays from a fourth consecutive loss Saturday against the surging Seattle Mariners.

Dickey (2-4, 4.50 ERA) underwent an MRI on Wednesday that revealed mild inflammation in his neck and back. Manager John Gibbons opted to give the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner an extra day of rest.

"The doctors indicated that it's just a matter of time before it goes away," Gibbons told the Blue Jays' official website. "But you keep irritating it when you throw it, but we need him out there and he wants to be out there. Plus, they looked at it and there's nothing serious at all."

The right-hander has allowed seven runs and walked six over 13 innings to lose two straight after he yielded a run and three walks in 12 1-3 innings to win the previous two. Dickey, who gave up three runs on two homers and two other hits in seven innings of a 3-2 loss at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, understands he must work through his health issues.

"If I have to battle it for a while, I'll battle it for a while until it goes away," he said. "It gets marginally better between starts. It's just that when I have to start it breaks down again."

Dickey, who went 5-8 with a 5.21 ERA in 32 games for Seattle in 2008, is 3-1 with a 4.43 ERA in nine appearances against the Mariners. His only start came in 2005 with Texas when he gave up six runs in 5 2-3 innings of an 8-6 victory.

He will try to help the Blue Jays (10-20) find a way to regroup after being outscored 17-2 in three games since Tuesday's 9-7 win over Boston. Toronto managed five hits against Seattle ace Felix Hernandez and closer Tom Wilhelmsen while losing for the seventh time in eight games, 4-0 on Friday.

The Blue Jays have dropped six of seven against the Mariners (14-17) and could have a hard time against Hisashi Iwakuma (2-1, 1.67), who is 0-1 in his last three starts despite allowing two earned runs and striking out 21 in 17 innings.

His teammates have scored one run during that span with the right-hander on the mound.

Iwakuma yielded an unearned run, three hits and fanned eight in six innings of a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday. He said a blister that he's had on his middle finger all season was not much of a problem.

"It's a lot better than the last start," Iwakuma told the Mariners' official website. "So hopefully we're making progress from here on."

Iwakuma faced Toronto twice in 2012, including one start when he gave up a leadoff homer to Rajai Davis and three other hits while striking out 13 in eight innings of a 4-1 home win July 30.

Kyle Seager hit a three-run homer for one of his three hits Friday as the Mariners won for the fifth time in six games.

Seager is batting .370 with four home runs and 14 RBIs while hitting safely in 20 of 21 games. He's batted .514 (18 for 35) during a nine-game hitting streak against the Blue Jays.

Teammate Dustin Ackley is batting .395 in his last 12 contests.