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TOR@TB: Dickey hurls complete-game shutout vs. Rays

Both the Tigers and Blue Jays enter Monday's Canada Day matinee at Rogers Centre on a bit of skid.

The Blue Jays have gone 2-5 since their 11-game winning streak was snapped, while the Tigers have lost five of their last six. Both teams will be looking to get things back on track when they meet Monday.

Toronto will send knuckleballer R.A. Dickey to the mound after he had his most dominant performance as a Blue Jay last time he toed the rubber.

Dickey tossed a two-hit shutout against the Rays, with one walk and six strikeouts.

"You could tell early on that he had it going," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "That's as good of a game as you can pitch, unless it's perfect."

The 2012 National League Cy Young winner has battled with inconsistency this season, partially because of back and neck tightness, and has long said he was working on fixing some things.

"I told you it would take some time to unlearn some bad habits that I had picked up trying to compensate for some earlier maladies," said Dickey, who threw 68 of his 93 pitches for strikes. "It's starting to take shape a little bit. Hopefully, this will be a springboard for the next hundred innings."

Opposing him will be Jose Alvarez, who will be making only his fourth career start.

Alvarez pitched 5 2/3 innings last time out against the Angels, allowing four earned runs on seven hits and a walk, with three strikeouts. It also marked the first time the left-hander got over the 100-pitch barrier since filling in for Anibal Sanchez in the Tigers' rotation.

Blue Jays: Rajai showing his worth in place of Melky
Rajai Davis has done a fine job of filling in for Melky Cabrera in left field since taking over the job on Friday.

Davis has reached base seven times in 13 plate appearances with three stolen bases and two runs scored since then.

Cabrera went on the disabled list because of left knee tendinitis, an issue that's been plaguing the outfielder nearly all season, and Davis' added speed and mobility has been noticeable in the outfield.

Davis has made a few nice plays, including a leaping grab in Saturday's contest, and his wheels are a big reason for why the club decided to call up an infielder in Cabrera's place as opposed to another outfielder.

"He adds a different element. He gets on base and he can run wild," Gibbons said. "We talked about some different options, but we thought, 'You know what? Raj has been swinging a little bit. Get him out there.'"

In the Boston series, Davis started all four games, going 7-for-14 with five steals and four runs scored.

Tigers: Archives help Verlander
To solve the mystery of Justin Verlander's issues this season, pitching coach Jeff Jones had to dig back a couple of years into the Tigers' archives.

Verlander has not looked himself this season, but in Saturday's game against the Rays, the 2011 American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner looked more like his old self after changing the tilt of his shoulders. He allowed three runs on nine hits, with four strikeouts over eight innings.

"I thought that was the best he's thrown in a while," manager Jim Leyland said.

Jones said he watched Verlander throw from the sidelines and reviewed films over the past couple of seasons, and found that the tall right-hander had kept getting his front arm higher and higher.

"Justin has a great feel for when he does something wrong," Jones said. "But he didn't feel this one."

After the slight alteration, the impact was immediate.

"I felt my fastball command was much better right out of the gate," Verlander said, who will close out the four-game set with the Blue Jays on Thursday.

• Sanchez, who is eligible to come off the disabled list, began a rehab assignment on Sunday and pitched in a simulated game.

Sanchez was scheduled to pitch for the Tigers' Class A squad, but the game was suspended because of the weather.

If all goes well, the Tigers righty could come off the disabled list and start against Cleveland on Saturday.

Worth noting
• Detroit and Toronto met for the only other time this season back in April. The Tigers went on to win that series 2-1, outscoring the Blue Jays 24-12.

• The Blue Jays are coming off a 10-game stretch against AL East opponents, going 5-5.

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