PHOENIX (AP) — Joe Saunders and the Arizona Diamondbacks are content to hit the road after completing a 7-3 homestand on Sunday even if they couldn’t take a series from the reeling New York Mets.
“It would have been nice to take the series,” Saunders said. “But we ran into a brick wall today with Dickey.”
R.A. Dickey rebounded from his first loss in three months to gain his National League-leading 14th win, and the Mets beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-1 to split the four-game series and win for just the third time in 17 games.
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Dickey (14-2) allowed an unearned run and four hits in seven innings, striking out eight, walking three and hitting a batter. The knuckleballer matched Tampa Bay’s David Price for the major league lead in wins. Dickey’s only losses have been to Atlanta on April 18 and against Washington on Tuesday.
“He’s 14-2 and that’s not by mistake,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. “(His knuckler) is around the zone and he throws so many strikes. Then he throws it in the zone and then it moves out and you end up swinging at a bad pitch.”
Paul Goldschmidt hit an RBI single in the sixth after the first of Josh Thole’s two passed balls in the inning as the Diamondbacks lost for only the third time in 13 homes games.
“We’ve got a rough road trip coming up,” Gibson said of a 10-game swing starting Monday in Los Angeles before continuing in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. “The Dodgers had a pretty good series this weekend and are going to be flying high in their park. It’s going to be very challenging.”
Chris Young struck out three times against Dickey.
“You just have to hope it doesn’t break like it does sometimes and try to find a hole,” Goldschmidt said. “He throws a slow (knuckleball), a fast one and then mixes a fastball in there. You’ve just got to go up there and try to battle.”
Scott Hairston had two hits and drove in two runs, and Thole, David Murphy and David Wright each hit RBI doubles for the Mets.
Saunders (5-7) gave up four runs, eight hits and three walks in seven innings. Coming off a three-hit, seven-inning performance against Colorado, Saunders has not won consecutive starts since Sept. 12 and 18 last year.
“It’s a matter of putting balls in play and we couldn’t put any balls in play with any authority,” Saunders said.
Wright hit an RBI double off the base of the right-field wall in the first and scored on Hairston’s double. Hairston made 3-0 with an RBI single in the fifth, and Murphy doubled in a run in the sixth.
NOTES: After the game the Mets, optioned OF Kirk Niewenhuis to Triple-A Buffalo and recalled Mike Baxter, who had been on the 15-day disabled list since June 23 with a strained left oblique. … Collins said he’s going to give Wright a break “in the next few days. He is tired, don’t let him kid you.” Wright has two hits in his past 15 at-bats. . Arizona acquired 3B Chris Johnson from Houston for a pair of minor league outfielders. Johnson hit .279 with eight homers and 42 RBIs in 92 games with Houston. … Mets closer Frank Francisco threw a one-hit, scoreless inning for Double-A Birmingham against Portland. Francisco had been expected to pitch on Saturday but was scratched with soreness in his left side. … RHP Jeremy Hefner will take the mound Monday as the Mets open a four-game series against San Francisco and LHP Madison Bumgarner. … The Diamondbacks continue a stretch of 20 consecutive games with a day off when RHP Trevor Cahill faces RHP Aaron Harang and the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday. Cahill is 0-2 with a 6.10 ERA in his past two road starts.