WASHINGTON -- It was a frustrating night for R.A. Dickey. His knuckleball wasn't working, and he had to resort to his fastball. Somehow, he survived, pitching into the seventh inning, winning his second game in four days as the New York Mets beat the Washington Nationals 7-3 on Friday night.
Dickey (7-11) won a second consecutive game for the first time this season, but that didn't satisfy him.
"It's not hyperbole to say that my knuckleball was putrid. I had to find a way to eat up innings and keep us in it," Dickey said.
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New York won for the seventh time in eight games, and Washington has dropped nine of 10, falling 10 games under .500 for the first time this season.
The 36-year-old Dickey has had a long and erratic career, never pitching an entire season in the major leagues. Last year, he went 11-9 with the Mets, and his knuckler was the reason why. If it fails him, Dickey has to tinker.
"They didn't have any bite to them. I don't have an explanation to why. I had to use some other stuff in the arsenal tonight," Dickey said.
His teammates staked him to a 6-1 lead in the third inning. David Wright hit a three-run home run in the first inning. It was Wright's 12th home run of the season and his first in 32 career games at Nationals Park. Angel Pagan hit a two-run single. Nick Evans hit a long home run in the second, and in the seventh, Lucas Duda slammed another long shot.
Dickey allowed a leadoff single in the seventh and was lifted, and four relievers shut out the Nationals the rest of the way.
"He got us through six. I thought that was plenty," New York manager Terry Collins said. "He worked hard to get through that game."
Dickey gave up three runs and nine hits, striking out one, and said pitching on three days' rest for just the third time in his career wasn't the reason the knuckler was substandard.
"I was able to throw a larger number of conventional pitches because I felt fine. I needed to survive. I'm glad I have enough arm strength to do that."
Wright also had a double. In his last eight games, he is 13 for 26.
"When you get on a little hot streak, you have to ride out as long as you can because you know right around the corner, there's an 0 for 10, 0 for 15 waiting for you," Wright said.
The Mets pounded Ross Detwiler (2-5), who gave up six runs in just three innings.
"All I can remember is one pitch that was actually good, so there's not much to take from this one," Detwiler said.
After Dickey departed, Tim Byrdak, Ryota Igarashi, Josh Stinson and Daniel Herrera combined to shut out Washington for the final three innings.
The Nationals scored a run in the first on Michael Morse's RBI single, and two in the fifth on Rick Ankiel's eighth home run.
Washington recalled OF Roger Bernadina from Triple-A Syracuse. ... 2B Danny Espinosa did not play. He was the only Washington player to appear in each of the team's games. ... Nationals OF Laynce Nix was out with a strained right groin. ... New York C Josh Thole was out of the lineup with a bruised left wrist. ... Mets IF Ruben Tejada was rested with a bruised middle finger on his left hand. ... Stinson made his major league debut, pitching 1 2-3 innings, allowing two hits. Herrera was added to the roster before the game. He struck out Jonny Gomes for the final out. Herrera was acquired on Thursday from Milwaukee as one of the two players to be named later in the trade for RHP Francisco Rodriguez. ... LHP Tom Milone is scheduled to make his major league debut for Washington on Saturday. Milone struck out 155 batters for Syracuse and walked just 16 in 148 1-3 innings. RHP Dillon Gee (12-5), who has beaten the Nationals in each of his three starts against them, will start for the Mets. ... New York LHP Johan Santana, who underwent shoulder surgery last September, will pitch two innings in a rehab game on Saturday for Class-A St. Lucie.