New York's knuckler keeps Mets above .500

NEW YORK (AP) R.A. Dickey took a three-hitter into the ninth inning and Ike Davis hit a three-run homer, leading the Mets to a 4-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday that gave New York its first series victory in more than a month.

Photos from the Mets’ shutout effort

Angel Pagan tripled and scored twice for the Mets, who took two of three from St. Louis to drop the Cardinals into second place in the NL Central, a half-game behind idle Cincinnati. New York won for only the fifth time in 18 games but improved to 28-12 in its past 40 at home.

Working on three days’ rest, Dickey (7-4) showed no ill effects of the sore left hip that prompted manager Jerry Manuel to pull the knuckleballer out of a scoreless game at Dodger Stadium in the sixth inning Sunday.

Once he was deemed completely healthy, Dickey was moved up in the rotation this week so the Mets could separate Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey, allowing 38-year-old Henry Blanco to catch both without having to play a day game after a night game.

About 12 1/2 hours after a 13th-inning single by Albert Pujols sent St. Louis to an 8-7 victory, Dickey went to the mound and shut down the Cardinals in one of the best performances of his career.

The 35-year-old journeyman, a surprise savior for the Mets since getting called up from Triple-A Buffalo, gave his team’s taxed bullpen a much-needed rest in his first win since June 23 against Detroit. The Mets played at least 13 innings three times in the previous eight days, losing all three of those games.

Dickey received a big cheer when he batted with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth. He grounded into a force play at the plate.

The right-hander allowed a leadoff single to pinch-hitter Colby Rasmus in the ninth, then walked Jon Jay with one out. Manuel was booed loudly when he came out of the dugout to remove Dickey, who got a standing ovation as he trotted off the mound.

Francisco Rodriguez retired Pujols on an easy fly and got Matt Holliday on a called third strike for his 22nd save in 27 attempts.

Dickey threw 73 of 118 pitches for strikes in a game that took 2 hours, 26 minutes. He was 0-4 in his previous six starts despite a 2.82 ERA during that stretch.

Davis also started a pair of double plays at first base and Carlos Beltran added an RBI single. The Mets had been 0-6-1 in series since taking two of three from Minnesota at home June 25-27.

Jose Reyes doubled leading off the third against Blake Hawksworth (4-7) and Pagan dragged a beautiful bunt single between the mound and first base. After Beltran flied out to shallow center, Davis drove the next pitch to the right of straightaway center, about three rows deep in the bleachers, for his 15th home run.

Pagan hit his seventh triple with one out in the fifth and Beltran followed with a single that made it 4-0. New York nearly added more, but Beltran was thrown out at the plate by Jay, who was playing very shallow in center and came up firing on Josh Thole’s two-out single.

NOTES: Holliday went 0 for 4, ending his season-best hitting streak at 13 games. … Dickey’s only major league complete game was a six-hit shutout for Texas against Detroit on Aug. 20, 2003. … Mets 3B David Wright was rested after a 3-for-6 night that left him with six hits in his last 33 at-bats (.182). “Hopefully, he’ll be fresh for the rest of the way,” Manuel said. Mike Hessman started at third base. It was the third time this season that Wright did not start. … New York LF Jason Bay sat out for the third straight game with a concussion. Manuel said if Bay still feels symptoms Friday, the team is likely to make a roster move. … Rain feel briefly in the late innings on umbrella day at Citi Field.

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