BALTIMORE -- The ball had virtually no spin, yet it came at the plate with surprising velocity. Even though the Baltimore Orioles knew what was coming, they were rendered helpless by R.A. Dickey's knuckleball.
Dickey baffled the Orioles for seven innings, Chris Carter hit his first major league homer, and the New York Mets coasted to a 5-1 victory Friday night.
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The Orioles had a tougher time hitting R.A. Dickey than Rod Barajas had catching him, and that wasn't easy, writes Adam Rubin. Story
Dickey (4-0) gave up one run and seven hits to win his fourth straight start. The right-hander had a career-high eight strikeouts, including Corey Patterson three times and Adam Jones twice."I had a really good knuckleball tonight. I had it from the beginning and felt comfortable with it, and was able to make some big pitches with it," Dickey said. "I just kept trusting it."Dickey said he threw only five fastballs, which makes perfect sense because his knuckler was so effective."It was a lot faster than the average knuckleball. It was, what, 74 to 80 [mph]? It was power and it moved," Jones said. "It's like trying to play catch with your friends and you throw knuckleballs, and every once in a while it's a good one."And Dickey's?"Every time," Jones said."That was the best knuckleball I've ever seen," said Baltimore's Luke Scott, who struck out and twice grounded out meekly. "Hard, with late movement."
Why R.A. Dickey Won
• With the knuckler, Dickey set season-highs in usage (86.2 percent of pitches were knuckleballs), swinging strikes (18), and miss percentage (35.3).
• Orioles batters went 4-23 against the knuckler (3-5 otherwise), including all eight of his career-high strikeout total.
• Of the 29 batters faced, Dickey went to 2-0 and 3-0 counts three times each.
Since his promotion from Triple-A Buffalo on May 19, the 35-year-old Dickey has gone at least six innings in each of his five starts and has a 2.78 ERA.Of his 109 pitches against Baltimore, 75 were strikes."A lot of swings and misses," Dickey said. "When you see hitters of that caliber swing and miss, you feel good about what you have that night. That's a good lineup. I know they don't have a good record, but they have a lot of proven hitters over there."Carter hit a three-run shot in the fourth inning to stake the Mets to a 4-0 lead against Jeremy Guthrie (3-7). The drive came on his 51st at-bat in the big leagues, including 23 with Boston over the past two seasons."I was like, in my head, 'Oh, my God, is that going out?' It was a great feeling," Carter said. "He threw a changeup [and] I just kept everything back. I just had a lot of adrenaline going too, and I think that played in my favor."David Wright had three hits and two RBIs for the Mets, who won for the sixth time in seven games and improved their road record to 9-18. New York has not yet captured a road series and hasn't recorded consecutive wins on the road since July 25-26 in Houston.All that can change Saturday, when the Mets again face the last-place Orioles, who have lost 13 of 15.Baltimore went 3 for 17 with runners in scoring position and struck out a season-high 12 times. The Orioles' lone run came when Patterson scored on a wild pitch by Dickey in the seventh."We got some hits; we did not get the big ones," interim manager Juan Samuel said.Guthrie allowed four runs and seven hits in seven innings. He has lost his last three starts, and after this one the right-hander joked that it might be worthwhile to add a knuckleball to his repertoire."Maybe I should try one of those, because it looked like it was tough to hit," Guthrie said.The Mets went up 1-0 in the first when Jose Reyes led off with a double and scored on a single by Wright. Jones saved another run with an outstanding diving catch in center field on a hooking liner hit by Jason Bay.Carter connected in the fourth after Ike Davis singled and Bay drew a walk.In the bottom half, the Orioles loaded the bases with no outs before Dickey struck out Scott and Jones, then retired Matt Wieters on a popup."That was possibly the game right there," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said.Baltimore also wasted a leadoff double by Nick Markakis in the sixth.Wright doubled in a run in the eighth off Brad Bergesen, making his first career relief appearance.
New York's interleague record improved to 108-107 (14-9 vs. Baltimore). ... Wright is batting .462 in his last 11 games. ... Opposing starters have pitched at least six innings against the Orioles in 46 of 61 games.