Not even R.A. Dickey’s darting knuckleball could prevent another power show by the New York Yankees.
Robinson Cano hit a tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning, and the Yankees touched up Dickey for five runs in a 6-5 victory over the New York Mets on Sunday night.
Nick Swisher hit an early three-run shot against Dickey, who was coming off consecutive one-hitters, making him the first major league pitcher in 24 years to accomplish that feat. But in a much-anticipated matchup at sold-out Citi Field, both he and Yankees ace CC Sabathia were missing their best stuff.
"We feel like we can beat everybody. We never go into a game saying, ‘We’ll probably lose this one because this guy’s hot,"’ Yankees slugger Mark Teixeira said. "When people say, ‘You can’t beat him,’ we go, `OK, we’ll prove you wrong.’ It’s kind of fun."
Leading off the eighth, Cano drove a 2-0 delivery from Miguel Batista (1-2) over the home run apple in straightaway center for his 16th homer and fifth in seven games. Taking advantage of a shaky Mets bullpen again, the Yankees won the final two games of the weekend series by one run to finish 5-1 against their crosstown rivals this season.
"Not too bad for a bunch of chickens," Swisher said, eager to take a shot at Mets closer Frank Francisco.
Before the series, Francisco called the Yankees "chickens" and later explained what he meant was that they often complain about calls by the umpires, especially balls and strikes.
Francisco saved the series opener Friday but was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Sunday with a strained muscle on his left side.
Including a sweep at home earlier this month, the Yankees have won five consecutive series against the Mets since May 2010.
The Bronx Bombers hit 15 home runs against the Mets this season — seven at reconfigured Citi Field — to account for 24 of their 32 runs. They lead the majors with 112 homers in 71 games, including 34 in the last 19 games.
"They hit balls out of the ballpark like there’s nothing to it," said Mets manager Terry Collins, who acknowledged he should have brought in left-hander Tim Byrdak to face Cano.
The talk of the town lately, Dickey was riding an unprecedented roll of dominance that rivaled any in baseball history. But the knuckleballer had an uncharacteristic bout of wildness against the homer-happy Yankees and lasted only six innings. He walked three, hit a batter and threw his first wild pitch of the season.
"I didn’t have a great knuckleball. It was just coming out wobbly a little bit. I kept searching for it," Dickey said.
Boone Logan (2-0) gave the Yankees another splendid performance out of the bullpen, and David Robertson retired Ruben Tejada with a runner on third to end the eighth. Rafael Soriano worked a scoreless ninth in the rain for his 15th save in 16 chances.
The Yankees have won 14 of their past 18 road games.
Sabathia, also coming off a complete game with double-digit strikeouts, gave up nine hits in 5 2/3 innings. He was betrayed by his defense while yielding five runs (one earned).
"It’s up to me to be able to pick these guys up," Sabathia said. "I didn’t make good enough pitches with two strikes."
Dickey received a big ovation during pregame introductions and sent a smiling Alex Rodriguez sprawling to the dirt with a high-and-tight pitch in the first — perhaps the first time he’s been buzzed by a knuckleball.
Dickey used his bat and legs to help the scrappy Mets get started on their comeback from a four-run deficit. He singled off Sabathia in the fifth and hustled home from second on David Wright ‘s two-out RBI single.
The 37-year-old pitcher slid into Chris Stewart at the plate, getting a face full of catcher’s mitt as his helmet was knocked off and the ball squirted away.
Trailing 5-2 in the sixth, the Mets capitalized on Cano’s error at second base to score three unearned runs with two outs. Vinny Rottino, pinch-hitting for Dickey, drew a four-pitch walk from Sabathia and screened Teixeira when Andres Torres grounded a two-run single just past the Gold Glove first baseman.
Tejada tied it with a single off Cory Wade, who struck out pinch-hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis with the bases loaded to end the inning.
Dickey wriggled out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the second but couldn’t escape in the third. Two walks sandwiched around Rodriguez’s dribbler for an infield single loaded the bases for Teixeira, the pitcher’s old buddy from their early days in Texas.
Teixeira made solid contact on a sacrifice fly, ending Dickey’s streak without allowing an earned run at 44 2/3 innings, second-best in team history behind Dwight Gooden ‘s stretch of 49 innings in 1985.
Swisher then sent a 2-1 knuckler well beyond the 390-foot sign in right-center for his 11th homer and a 4-0 cushion. He clapped his hands high as he rounded first base and wore a broad smile when he got back to the dugout.
"Lucky," Swisher said. "I’ve never hit a ball like that off a knuckleballer, I know that."
It was the first home run off Dickey since Cincinnati slugger Joey Votto connected on May 17. After a no-decision in that game, Dickey won his next six starts heading into Sunday night.
"It didn’t quite live up to the billing," he said. "But golly, I’m so proud of our guys who scrapped and fought. We can build off that."
NOTES: Yankees C Russell Martin sat out after leaving Saturday’s game in the ninth inning with a stiff lower back. Stewart usually catches Sabathia anyway, but manager Joe Girardi reiterated that he wants to get Sabathia and Martin working together again. … Raul Ibanez had three hits for the Yankees. … Mets 1B Ike Davis , scratched from the lineup Saturday and sent home because of food poisoning, flied out as a pinch-hitter to end it. … The crowd of 42,364 was the largest in the 4-year history of Citi Field.