It was his best performance of the season, but for R.A. Dickey it was still a pain in the neck.

Literally.

The Jays used his soft touch on the mound, and speed on the bases, Thursday to burn the White Sox 3-1.

Dickey allowed two singles, shutting the Chisox out for six innings. But it could have been so much more.

As has usually been the case for the Jays in this season of aggravation, there was a “yeah but ...” attached to what should have been a high-five scenario.

While Dickey was superb, his departure was sudden and troubling.

Preliminary reports suggest it isn’t serious, that all Dickey has is tightness in his neck and back.

“It was a gustsy performance. It’s been bothering him for a couple days and we didn’t really know what to expect,” said manager John Gibbons. “I think we’ll be able to calm it down. I’m sure we’ll see him in five days.”

After injuries to key figures such as Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie, losing Dickey for any length of time would be a serious setback.

While Dickey professed optimism about his next scheduled start in Baltimore, it is just as evident that optimism comes with a cautionary doctor’s note.

“It’s too early to speculate,” said Dickey, who retired the first 11 batters and left with a 3-0 lead. “I’m going to care for it the way I have been. I’m optimistic it isn’t going to be an issue. I just don’t want it to linger for months.”

Dickey’s performance was sorely needed by an offence that has sputtered. And Chris Sale pitched a game that on most nights might have given the Sox a win. Toronto had just four hits.