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Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) hits a three run home run during the fifth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.Bob DeChiara

It was a road trip that started with such promise and ended, really, with such despair.

Three wins against the Tampa Bay Rays had stretched the Toronto Blue Jays' win streak to five games, opening the door just a smidgen to the possibility that a playoff berth was still out there to be had.

A long shot to be sure, but still a dream worth pursuing.

Then came the Boston beat-down, a lost weekend in more ways than one at the hands of the Red Sox, an American League East rival whose playoff hopes went up in smoke weeks ago.

The Blue Jays (73-69) salvaged what they could after dropping the first two games to the Red Sox (63-80), gathering themselves for a 3-1 victory over Boston at Fenway Park on Sunday afternoon to avoid the three-game sweep.

Toronto heads home from this trip with a 4-2 record which, under normal circumstances, passes for a viable journey.

Not at this late stage in the season where every loss heightens the inevitability that the Blue Jays will miss the playoffs for the 21st consecutive year.

"You've got to take the positives out of the road trip," insisted R.A. Dickey, who turned in another fine performance on the mound on Sunday to lead the Blue Jays to victory. "Four and two's nice. I've always said that we need to get to 90 wins somehow to have a shot [at the playoffs]. I know that's a tall order, but it's not impossible."

Ninety wins?

Shucks, the Blue Jays only need to go 17-3 over their remaining 20 games to achieve that lofty plateau. As of last night, Fangraphs.com was listing the chances of Toronto being able to make the postseason at 1.4 per cent.

And those odds are factored without the knowledge that the Blue Jays will have to play the rest of the way without left fielder Melky Cabrera, who had been enjoying a terrific season before a broken right pinky suffered during Friday's game sidelined him for the rest of the run.

Even John Gibbons, the Blue Jays manager and eternal optimist, came close to admitting the obvious following Saturday's 4-3 loss to the Red Sox.

"We're still in this thing, but we're hanging by a thread," the skipper conceded.

The Blue Jays now return home for their second-last homestand of the regular season, beginning on Monday with the first of a three-game interleague set against the Chicago Cubs. After that, beginning on Friday, Toronto will entertain the Tampa Bay Rays for a three-game tilt.

"Keep grinding it out, take advantage of teams who aren't high up in the standing," is Dickey's recipe for success the rest of the way. "You've got to win those types of games. So we've got to do a good job against Chicago because any team at this level can still sneak up and make you remember that you're not as good as you think you are."

Dickey has pitched well of late and Sunday marked his 30th start of the campaign, the fourth consecutive year he has reached that plateau.

He started Sunday's game in fine fettle, hurling eight straight strikes to begin the game, not always an easy feat for a knuckleballer.

Dickey threw seven innings and allowed the lone Boston run off six hits to hike his record to 12-12 on the year.

Jose Bautista provided all the offence Toronto needed, clubbing his 31st home run in the fifth inning, a three-run moonshot that cleared the Green Monster in left and continued on right out of the stadium.

That made the score 3-0 for Toronto and spelled the end of the afternoon for Boston starter Rubby De La Rosa, who absorbed the loss to see his record dip to 4-6.

Steven Wright came in to pitch for Boston and for most of the rest of the game the fans were treated to the unusual spectacle of watching two knuckleball specialists go at it.

Wright fared pretty good in his own right, shutting down the Blue Jays the rest of the way on just two hits over five innings.

Dickey, 39, and Wright, 30, remain the only two pitchers at the major-league level throwing the knuckler.

Dickey said he hopes Wright can keep on playing once his career is finished, not wanting to see the pitch go the way of the dinosaur.

"You don't like thinking that when you leave there won't be anybody else out there that does what you did," Dickey said. "It's lonely when you're up here and you're the only guy. Now there's another guy.

"Hopefully he'll perform well enough to be able to consistently make a major-league roster."