NEW YORK (AP) – R.A. Dickey became the latest knuckleballer to baffle the Philadelphia Phillies, shaking off an early line drive that hit him on his non-pitching elbow to lead the New York Mets to an 8-0 victory Tuesday night.
Jason Bay and Jeff Francoeur each drove in a pair of runs in the opener of a three-game series between NL East rivals at Citi Field, where the last-place Mets are 17-9. Jose Reyes had three hits and scored three times.
Two days after 43-year-old Boston knuckler Tim Wakefield tossed eight shutout innings to beat the powerful Phillies, Dickey shut them down for his first major league win since April 10, 2009, for Minnesota against the Chicago White Sox.
Called up from Triple-A Buffalo last Wednesday to replace an ineffective Oliver Perez in New York’s unstable and injury-depleted rotation, Dickey (1-0) escaped three bases-loaded jams in the first three innings.
The 35-year-old right-hander allowed seven singles in six innings and struck out seven, matching his career high set June 2, 2004, for Texas at Cleveland. He walked three.
Dickey was hit on the left elbow by Ryan Howard’s line-drive single to start the second. Mets manager Jerry Manuel and a trainer came out to check on Dickey, who threw three warmup pitches and remained in the game.
The next inning, the Mets announced that X-rays on Dickey’s elbow were negative and he would be monitored closely throughout the game for pain and swelling.
After taking two of three from the crosstown rival Yankees last weekend in an exciting Subway Series, the Mets played a crisp game on both offense and defense that was easily one of their best all-around efforts this season.
Reyes created a couple of runs with his speed and New York excelled at situational hitting, putting the ball in play and moving runners along against 47-year-old Jamie Moyer (5-4).
The Mets have won three straight games – and four out of five since dropping seven of eight.
Before batting practice, manager Charlie Manuel said he thought facing Wakefield in their previous game could be a benefit to the Phillies against Dickey.
Not at all.
Despite a lineup featuring five players who were the leading vote-getters at their positions when the initial NL All-Star voting was released Tuesday, Philadelphia stranded 13 runners.
Dickey has been on a roll going back to last month in the minors, when he retired 27 straight batters following a leadoff single in Buffalo’s 4-0 win over Durham on April 29.
Dickey has been tutored by Wakefield and said Sunday he would call his knuckleballing friend to pick his brain after his splendid outing against first-place Philadelphia.
The two-time defending NL champions have lost three straight – including a near no-hitter by Boston’s Daisuke Matsuzaka on Saturday night.
Raul Valdes wiggled out of trouble for New York in the seventh.
With runners at second and third and none out, he struck out sluggers Chase Utley and Howard before third baseman David Wright made a diving stop of Jayson Werth’s grounder and threw him out – with the help of a slick scoop by Ike Davis at first.
Valdes worked three innings for his first major league save and even drove a double over Werth’s head in right for his first career RBI. The lefty reliever is 4 for 7 at the plate this season, his first in the big leagues.
NOTES: Reyes’ first-inning single was his 1,000th career hit. … The Phillies leading at their positions in fan balloting for the All-Star game were Utley at second base (the leading vote-getter overall), Placido Polanco at third, Werth and Shane Victorino in the outfield, and injured shortstop Jimmy Rollins. … Mets 2B Luis Castillo was back in lineup after his sore left foot was examined by a doctor Monday.