Rays are befuddled by Dickey and his knuckleball

R.A. Dickey of the Mets throws a pitch in the first inning of Wednesday's game against the Rays at St. Petersburg, Fla. Dickey pitched a one-hitter with 12 strikeouts as the Mets won 9-1.
R.A. Dickey of the Mets throws a pitch in the first inning of Wednesday's game against the Rays at St. Petersburg, Fla. Dickey pitched a one-hitter with 12 strikeouts as the Mets won 9-1. Chris O'Meara/AP Photo

St. Petersburg, Fla. - R.A. Dickey allowed only an infield single during his second career one-hitter and broke the New York Mets' record for consecutive scoreless innings in a 9-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night.

Dickey (10-1) became the first 10-game winner in the major leagues and ran his career-best shutout streak to 32 2-3 innings before yielding an unearned run in the ninth. That topped the previous club mark of 31 2-3 scoreless innings in a row set by Jerry Koosman in 1973.

B.J. Upton's high bouncer to third base in the first inning was the lone hit off Dickey, who set a career best with 12 strikeouts and did not walk a batter. The 37-year-old knuckleballer permitted only one other baserunner, on a throwing error by third baseman David Wright in the ninth.

Wright tried to make a barehand play on the speedy Upton in the first, but couldn't hang onto the ball.

Dickey outpitched AL wins leader David Price (8-4). In his last five outings, the right-hander has struck out 50 and walked three. He is 8-0 in his past 10 starts.

Besides the good fortune for Upton, Tampa Bay didn't come close to getting another hit. In fact, the Rays only managed to hit four balls out of the infield all night - three routine fly balls to center field and one to left - as Dickey came close to pitching the team's second no-hitter in two weeks.

Johan Santana held St. Louis hitless on June 1, the first no-hitter in the Mets' 51-year history.

Dickey, whose eight straight wins also are a career best, lost his shutout in the ninth. Elliot Johnson reached on Wright's throwing error, then advanced to third on a pair of passed balls by Mike Nickeas before scoring when Desmond Jennings grounded out.

Daniel Murphy and Omar Quintanilla drove in two runs apiece for the Mets. Nickeas ended an 0-for-14 drought with an RBI single, and Vinny Rottino and Ike Davis also drove in runs for New York, which has rebounded from being swept by the Yankees in a weekend series to win two straight from Tampa Bay by a combined score of 20-2.

Wright capped a 14-hit outburst with a two-run double in the ninth.

Price, who is tied for the AL wins lead, allowed a season-high seven runs on nine hits in five-plus innings. He walked three and struck out eight.

According to STATS LLC, the starting pitching matchup was only the second since 1921 to feature the AL and NL wins leaders during the regular season. The other was Boston's Josh Beckett and San Diego's Jake Peavy on June 24, 2007. The Rays said it has only happened three times in the last 50 World Series, with Atlanta's John Smoltz facing the Yankees' Andy Pettitte in 1996, Toronto's Jack Morris facing Atlanta's Tom Glavine in 1992 and the Dodgers' Sandy Koufax going against the Yankees' Whitey Ford twice in 1963.

Price limited the Mets to Andres Torres' first-inning single and three walks until New York finally broke through against the left-hander in the fifth, with the struggling Davis and Nickeas leading the way.

Davis, batting .174, doubled to right. Nickeas, batting just .134, followed with his RBI single to drive in the first run of the game. Price struck out Quintanilla before giving up a double to Torres and the two-run single to Murphy that put the Mets up 3-0.

The Rays' starter departed after giving up four straight hits to begin the sixth, including Rottino's RBI double and Davis' RBI single that hiked the lead to 5-0. Quintanilla's bases-loaded single off Burke Badenhop drove in the final two runs charged to Price, who had allowed a total of seven runs over his previous five starts.

• Mets manager Terry Collins was selected to serve as one of the NL coaches for the All-Star game. ... Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist was out of the lineup for the second straight night. The second baseman has a sore right hand that was injured while sliding into second base at Miami on Sunday, but manager Joe Maddon said Zobrist did not play Tuesday night because he was ill. ... Rays DH Luke Scott, who has not started the last seven games, is day to day with a stiff back. ... Mets LF Jason Bay went 1 for 4 and is 1 for 20 since returning from a long stint on the disabled list with a broken rib.

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