Ackley hits grand slam, Mariners top Blue Jays 8-1

TORONTO (AP) — From the start, it was another rugged outing for R.A. Dickey and the Toronto Blue Jays.

The reigning NL Cy Young winner gave up a home run on his second pitch and was later booed off the mound. Dustin Ackley hit his first career grand slam and Michael Saunders homered twice as the Seattle Mariners romped 8-1 Saturday.

“We’re somewhat of a dysfunctional team right now,” Dickey said. “We’re kind of searching for a way to score runs, a way to pitch well. We’re doing a lot of things poorly, myself included.”

Toronto has lost four straight and has been outscored 25-3 in that span. A season-worst 11 games below .500, the Blue Jays have lost 14 of 18 overall.

“We’re all pretty beat up mentally right now but you’ve got to get through that,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “That’s professional baseball. There’s a lot of season left. You get tested and you find out what you’re made of.”

Dickey (2-5) was among several stars Toronto added during an offseason overhaul. Despite all the All-Stars, the Blue Jays are 10-21 and in last place.

Pressed on his use of the word “dysfunctional” after a report Friday of tension in the Blue Jays clubhouse, Dickey insisted there’s no issue with Toronto’s chemistry.

“We’ve got a group of great guys,” the knuckleballer said. “And the chemistry in here, nobody is blaming other people. We’re all trying to own what ours is to own in this. But we’re not very good right now and everybody knows it. That’s no secret.”

Dickey was booed by the crowd of 35,754 after Raul Ibanez hit a one-out triple in the sixth and scored on Kelly Shoppach’s double. As the runs piled up, some fans responded with chants of “Go, Leafs, Go!” for the NHL’s Maple Leafs, currently in the playoffs against the Boston Bruins.

“I did hear them, it was hard not to,” Dickey said. “They were pretty animated. You can’t blame them. We’ve played well below our expectation. We’re booing ourselves. It’s tough.”

Pitching on an extra day of rest because of lingering neck and back soreness, Dickey lost his third straight start. He allowed six hits, including a season-high three home runs. He walked two and struck out five.

“He didn’t give up a lot of hits but they were big hits,” Gibbons said.

Dickey said his neck and back weren’t a concern against the Mariners, and Gibbons said the Blue Jays see no need to put Dickey on the disabled list.

Dickey lost consecutive starts only once during his outstanding season with the New York Mets last year. His previous three-start losing streak came in July and August of 2011.

It was a bad day all around for the Blue Jays, who even appeared to lose track of the number of outs and were slow to come off the field after Kendrys Morales struck out to end the fifth.

Hisashi Iwakuma (3-1) welcomed the Seattle hitting after receiving just one run of support in his previous three outings. He pitched seven innings to win for the first time in four starts.

Iwakuma allowed one run and five hits. He walked three and struck out five, lowering his ERA to 1.61.

“He’s one of the better guys in the league right now and you can see why,” Gibbons said.

Yoervis Medina pitched the eighth and Oliver Perez worked the ninth for the Mariners, who have won seven of their past eight meetings with Toronto. Seattle has won six of seven overall.

Saunders homered on Dickey’s second pitch of the game, the second leadoff homer of his career, then added another solo shot in the fifth. It was the fourth multihomer game of his career and his first this season.

Saunders added an RBI double off Brett Cecil in the ninth.

“He had a big day for us,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. “He just brings a lot of energy and intensity to the top of our lineup.”

Ackley connected on a 3-2 pitch in the fourth, immediately after Dickey had loaded the bases with back-to-back walks to Ibanez and Shoppach.

“That’s an awesome feeling,” Ackley said. “Hitting a home run in general is a great feeling, but to have three guys on base and to put your team up, it was pretty important for us.”

Ackley’s first homer of the season was Dickey’s biggest regret of the afternoon.

“Outside of that I wasn’t too disappointed, but that singular pitch really put us in the hole, big time,” Dickey said.

Blanked by Felix Hernandez on Friday, the Blue Jays struggled to get anything going against Iwakuma, snapping a 23-inning scoreless streak on Munenori Kawasaki’s sacrifice fly in the seventh.

NOTES: Wedge gave 1B Justin Smoak and OF Jason Bay the day off against Dickey. … Dickey underwent an MRI on Wednesday that revealed mild inflammation in his neck and back. It’s the same injury that forced him to leave after the sixth inning of an April 18 start against the Chicago White Sox. … Dickey went 5-8 with a 5.21 ERA in 32 games for Seattle in 2008. … Seattle’s Joe Saunders (2-3) faces Brandon Morrow (0-2) in Sunday’s series finale.

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