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NY@BAL: Tillman strikes out six en route to the win

If Toronto can right the ship and earn a sweep in its last series before the All-Star break, the club would head into the second half with a .500 record.

The Blue Jays have lost 11 of their last 17 games since going on an 11-game winning streak in the middle of June that temporarily seemed to save their season. Taking this weekend's series could go a long way.

After R.A. Dickey allowed three runs (two earned) on the way to his 10th loss of the season Thursday, the Blue Jays shift their focus to Baltimore, where they'll play three against the Orioles before the break.

Mark Buehrle takes the mound for the Blue Jays in the series opener. The 34-year-old was nearly unbeatable during a six-game stretch from May 22 to June 19, had two rocky outings and rebounded with seven innings of shutout ball against the Twins in his last start.

"We can lose 10 in a row or win 10 in a row. I'm going out there trying to win," Buehrle said of his approach following the 4-0 victory vs. the Twins. "When the bullpen is used a lot, I try to go in there deep in the game. I try to win every game no matter the situation."

The sudden resurgence of Buehrle has helped ingrain confidence in the starting five. And if the Blue Jays can pull off a sweep before the break, they'll be back at .500 and ready to attack the second half.

"We'll have a better idea of where we're at, I would think, going into the All-Star Game," manager John Gibbons said. "We're playing some pretty good teams, and we've been struggling lately. We definitely need to kick it in, that's for sure."

The Orioles are still within striking distance, though they've lost six of 11 and are batting .159 (11-for-69) with runners in scoring position since June 30.

"Yeah, of course," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said when asked if his team is pressing. "There's a good pressing and a bad pressing. I don't think it's anything real quality starts [won't fix]. ... I think they're pressing for the right reasons, because they want something so much.

"It's been a challenge for us, because everybody wants to contribute. They want to be the guy. That's been part of why we're competing better, but it can also get in the way a little bit."

Chris Tillman will take the mound having won six of his last seven starts, while improving his record to 10-3. The once-heralded prospect has put up impressive numbers since his lackluster 2011 season. In 191 2/3 innings since the beginning of 2012, Tillman is 19-6 with a 3.47 ERA.

Blue Jays: Top pick likely to go unsigned
First-round Draft pick Phil Bickford has until Friday evening to reach a deal with Toronto, but it appears unlikely that the two sides will come to an agreement.

The 10th overall pick, Bickford is a 17-year-old pitcher who posted a 1.72 ERA in high school. General manager Alex Anthopoulos said that the team has the funds to sign him, but he hinted that there are factors at play aside from just money.

"Right now, it looks as though we won't be signing him," Anthopoulos said. "Anything can change, but [Friday is] the deadline. Right now, we probably won't have a deal in place."

Orioles: Dickerson participates in pregame workouts
While Chris Dickerson was a late scratch with a strained shoulder Wednesday, he said he felt fine on Thursday. He took part in pregame workouts and said if that went well, the team would scrap the MRI it had scheduled on Friday.

"It's considerably better in the swing today," Dickseron said on Thursday. "It wasn't that serious. Just went home and did some work with a neuromuscular specialist, and it's much better today."

Dickerson said he injured the shoulder on the last swing of his first round of batting practice Wednesday. He took the next round off, but then finished up batting practice.

Worth noting
• Orioles rookie Manny Machado leads the Majors with 14 games in which he's collected three or more hits.

• Buehrle has a 2.83 career ERA vs. the Orioles, his best ERA against any team he's thrown at least 50 innings against.

• O's right-hander Steve Johnson (oblique) threw batting practice Thursday in Sarasota, Fla. Showalter said Johnson was tired afterwards, but he otherwise didn't get any negative reports. Comments