R.A. Dickey won his 20th game of the season Thursday afternoon, becoming the first Mets pitcher to reach that milestone in 22 years. But in typical Mets fashion there was some ninth inning bullpen drama before Dickey could pop the champagne.
Dickey fell behind early. Garrett Jones led off the second inning with a double to left that Scott Hairston could not reach. One out later Travis Snider singled in front of Hairston to put runners on first and third. It is not fair to say that Hairston should have caught the balls, but a better fielder would have had a chance. Rod Barajas hit a ground rule double to right to score Jones to make it 1-0. With runners on second and third Jordy Mercer hit a slow roller to David Wright. He wanted to go home, but Josh Thole did not give Wright a target so the run scored to make it 2-0. He had to go to first but Mercer beat the throw. Dickey was able to get the final two outs on strikeouts.
Ike Davis got one of the runs back in the bottom of the inning with a solo blast to right. It was Davis’s 31st home run of the year. Later in the inning it looked like Mike Baxter would tie the score with a solo homer of his own, but Snider climbed the right field wall to bring the ball back in. He was able to get his spike into the chain link part of the fence and get high enough to make an incredible catch.
Barajas made it 3-1 with a long home run to left field in the fourth inning.
Daniel Murphy and Wright opened the bottom of the fourth with back-to-back singles to put runners on first and third with no outs. Davis hit a foul pop-up for the first out, but Scott Hairston was able to single to right to score Murphy to make it a 3-2 game. With runners on first and second Baxter grounded out to the first baseman, with Jones not going for a possible inning-ending double play. So runners were on second and third with two outs, but Josh Thole grounded out meekly to end the inning.
Andres Torres led off the fifth with a walk. After Dickey struck out, Ruben Tejada singled to put runners on first and second. Murphy singled up the middle to score Torres to tie the game at three. Wright then came up huge, driving a ball over the wall in right-center. The three-run homer made it 6-3.
After throwing 111 pitches through seven innings, Dickey surprisingly was allowed to stay in the game, leading off the bottom of the seventh with an infield single. He was erased on a ground out and went back to the dugout to rest up for the eighth inning.
Dickey was lifted with two outs in the eighth after walking a batter. Barajas launched Jon Rauch’s first pitch high and deep to left-center and every Mets fan held their collective breath until it came down safely in Torres’s glove to end the inning.
Dickey was hittable during his 7.2 innings, allowing the three runs on eight hits, but he did strike out a career high-tying 13 Pirates as well. Dickey regained the lead in strikeouts with 222, 11 more than Clayton Kershaw. His ERA edged up a bit to 2.69, now second to Kershaw’s 2.68.
Rauch walked the lead off batter in the ninth and with one out allowed a home run to Alex Presley to cut the lead to 6-5 game. Bobby Parnell came on got the final two outs to nail down Dickey’s 20th win.
Mets and R.A. Dickey win, 6-5.