R.A.'s way: Dickey fires one-hitter at Phils
Mets notch back-to-back wins for first time since June 22-23
NEW YORK -- It took R.A. Dickey 102 knuckleballs to shut out the Phillies on Friday night, and only one to end his bid for the first no-hitter in Mets franchise history.
Coming off his worst start of the season -- six runs in three innings Sunday in Philadelphia -- Dickey rebounded by taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the same team in his home ballpark.
Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels swung at a first-pitch knuckler and blooped a single into right field over second baseman Ruben Tejada's head that would stand as Philadelphia's only hit of the night, as the Mets went on to a 1-0 victory at Citi Field.
"When I finally got the ball, he was five steps from first base," right fielder Jeff Francoeur said. "I didn't have a shot [to throw him out]. Trust me, if I thought I did, I'll take it, but at the same time, I didn't want to just throw it for the sake of throwing it."
Dickey (8-5, 2.43 ERA) struck out seven and allowed just two baserunners in helping the Mets (58-57) win their first back-to-back games since June 22-23. He followed up Johan Santana's shutout of the Rockies on Thursday with one of his own, which couldn't have come at a better time, considering closer Francisco Rodriguez was serving the second and final game of his suspension after being arrested for third-degree assault on Wednesday.
"It's very, very satisfying," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "For those two to take it upon themselves as starters to start and complete the game was huge for us."
Manuel said before the game that Dickey's knuckleball was faster than usual in Philadelphia, which straightened the pitch out and made it less of a change in speed from his fastball.
Dickey disagreed, saying that had nothing to do with his performance, but he did say that in his 105 pitches Friday, he only threw three fastballs the whole night. The rest were knuckleballs.
"The one he threw at our place was harder," Phillies catcher Brian Schneider said. "This one was dancing a lot more than it was at our place. It's kind of hard to have an approach against a knuckleballer, except make sure the ball is up."
The ball to Hamels was down in the zone, but he got just enough of it to bloop in a clean single. While surrendering the only hit of the night to the opposing pitcher bothered Dickey, he maintained that it was a good pitch and there was nothing anyone could've done to change the outcome.
"There's definitely no woulda-shoulda," Dickey said. "There's, 'Aw shucks, I wish that wouldn't have happened.' That's probably the most satisfying thing about this night for me is that there's no regret. I had an outing without regret, and you rarely can say that about an outing. There's always one pitch that you didn't execute right, or a sinker you didn't get or a ball you left over the plate that got raked in the gap. There's always a regret. This game is about how to handle regret, it really is."
The Mets' offense continued to struggle, as Hamels held them to five hits over eight innings while striking out eight. The only run of the game came on back-to-back doubles by David Wright and Carlos Beltran with two outs in the sixth inning.
"For us to be more successful, we have to be better offensively, there's no doubt about it," Beltran said. "We have the guys to do it."
The Mets, who have scored three runs or fewer in eight of their 11 games this month, twice led off an inning with an extra-base hit but couldn't push a run across against Hamels.
Mike Hessman, whose home run was overturned by video review and made into a triple after a fan-interference call in the fifth, was the only Mets hitter to reach base twice.
For Dickey, he threw the 14th complete-game shutout with zero or one hit allowed this season. The last time that happened was 1993, when there was also 14. It was the 35th one-hitter thrown by the Mets, who have never tossed a no-hitter in their history.
The headlines will speak to a well-pitched win for the Mets against the division-rival Phillies (64-51), and that's what was most important to the veteran knuckleballer.
"I was just thankful after the game that this game wasn't about a phantom home run, or K-Rod or a runner we didn't get in from third base," Dickey said. "That's not what this game was about when the headlines could've been about that. It was about that we played well, we played hard, we got a two-out run and we won the ballgame, and that's nice."
Kyle Maistri is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.