ST. PETERSBURG -- The pitching matchup Wednesday delivered as advertised -- at first. But while R.A. Dickey dominated, left-hander David Price unraveled in the Rays' 9-1 loss to the Mets at Tropicana Field.
The Mets' knuckleballer gave up a hit in the first inning to B.J. Upton. After that infield single, he made team history with a near-perfect performance.
The Mets' team record for consecutive scoreless innings pitched was broken by Dickey as he extended his streak to 32 2/3, eclipsing the old mark of 31 2/3 set by Jerry Koosman in 1973, before the Rays pushed across their only run in the ninth inning on an error, two passed balls and an RBI groundout.
He finished the night with just one hit against him -- a sharply hit ground ball that third baseman David Wright couldn't handle quickly enough.
"When I hit it, I thought it was going to be a tough play for him," Upton said. "I felt like it was going to be a hit."
Mets manager Terry Collins said he would appeal the ruling on the play to change Tampa Bay's only hit to an error. Regardless, he still can't believe the show Dickey has put on start after start.
"I've never seen anything like this, never," Collins said. "I've seen some dominant pitching, but nothing like what he's going through right now."
Dickey breezed through the first four innings, nabbing eight of his career-high 12 strikeouts on the day, including a run of six in seven outs. Price kept pace, though, with just one hit, three walks and six strikeouts of his own in four innings.
Ultimately, the day was Dickey's -- and the Rays just couldn't tell where his knuckleball would end up.
"It was like a roller coaster, you just don't know what it's going to do," said Rays first baseman Carlos Pena, who struck out twice. "You could almost expect it to do a couple things, but those few things are just too much to handle. It could cut, it could drift up and away from a hitter ... he can throw it harder, throw it slower. It was an unbelievable pitching performance."
It didn't hurt that Dickey got plenty of run support, beginning in the top of the fifth against a fading Price, set up by an Ike Davis double to right-center field. Catcher Mike Nickeas, who had grounded into a double play in his previous at-bat, roped a single up the middle, bringing in Davis.
After a strikeout by Omar Quintanilla, Andres Torres hit a double, and a single from Daniel Murphy brought in Nickeas and Torres to give the Mets a 3-0 advantage.
The Mets added another pair off Price in the top of the sixth inning, led by back-to-back singles by Scott Hairston and Jason Bay. A double by Vinny Rottino brought in Hairston before Davis recorded a single that scored Bay to make it 5-0.
That forced manager Joe Maddon to head to his bullpen and bring in Burke Badenhop, who allowed back-to-back singles of his own to Nickeas and then Quintanilla that scored a pair of runs.
Price finished with seven runs attributed to him off nine hits, three walks and eight strikeouts in his five-plus innings.
"I didn't have my best fastball today, so I had to use my other stuff," Price said. "That's what I did and was in control for the first couple innings, and it spun out of control there in the fifth and the sixth. I have to do a better job."
As impressive as the Mets' pitching has been in the Interleague series through two games, Rays manager Joe Maddon equally respects what its offense did as well.
"Everything they're hitting is finding an open spot," Maddon said. "I'll give them credit, because there's not fly-ball outs with that team. ... They've really capitalized on ground balls and line drives, and that's what you want to do."
Greg Zeck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.