Duda picks up Wright with clutch single in 8th

Lucas Duda drives in a run with a Lucas Duda drives in a run with a single off Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Juan Cruz during the eighth inning. (May 22, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

advertisement | advertise on newsday

PITTSBURGH -- On a night when David Wright surprisingly didn't come through in the clutch, Lucas Duda picked him up with a go-ahead RBI single in the eighth inning as the Mets beat the Pirates Tuesday night at PNC Park, 3-2.

Duda's two-out liner off the glove of first baseman Garrett Jones scored Mike Baxter, who had doubled with one out. It helped make a winner of R.A. Dickey, who struck out a career-high 11 in seven innings.

Of Dickey's 87 pitches, 84 were knuckleballs.

Wright entered the game batting .415 with an on-base percentage of .515, both tops in the majors. He had a rare off night, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts to drop his average to .403.

He came up in the eighth inning with the score tied at 1 and runners on first and second and struck out against reliever Juan Cruz for the second out. But Duda, who was hitting only .213 with runners in scoring position, delivered the big hit the Mets had been expecting from Wright.

"You gotta have it," manager Terry Collins said. "You're not going to have one guy carry you for 162 games. David's certainly carried his share of the load thus far. We've got to help him out. Some other guys have got to start getting some hits. Tonight, Lucas got a big hit, which was good to see."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The Mets got an insurance run when third baseman Pedro Alvarez botched Daniel Murphy's routine grounder for an error.

The Pirates got a run back in the bottom of the eighth when Murphy dropped Andrew McCutchen's pop-up in short centerfield while trying to make an over-the-shoulder catch. It was scored a single.

Tim Byrdak ended the inning by fanning Alvarez with the tying run on second. A resurgent Frank Francisco pitched a perfect ninth for his 11th save in 13 chances.

Dickey and James McDonald dueled for seven fast innings and left with the score tied at 1 entering the eighth. McDonald gave up one run, four hits and two walks, with eight strikeouts.

Dickey (6-1), with the knuckleball dancing, allowed one run and five hits with no walks.

"It was consistently good throughout the game, which was nice," said Dickey, who threw three fastballs. "A lot of times, it will leave and come back. Tonight, I felt like I had a really good one."

Collins made the difficult decision to bat slumping Andres Torres for Dickey leading off the eighth. Torres struck out to extend his skid to 0-for-17.

"When Andres strikes out," Collins said, "you say to yourself, 'Well, hell, R.A. could have done that.' "

But Dickey said: "I understood completely. He's got to do what he thinks is best for the team to win the ballgame. He's got faith in the bullpen and if Andres gets on, it might start a rally. He's got a lot better shot than I do."

The Mets opened the scoring in the second inning, with Mike Nickeas driving in Murphy with a two-out single into the leftfield corner. Nickeas was cut down at second trying to stretch it into a double.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The Pirates tied it in the sixth when Josh Harrison, who had doubled earlier, tripled to left-center and scored on a sacrifice fly by McCutchen. Harrison went 2-for-3 against Dickey and is now 6-for-10 vs. the righthander.

Just about the only down note for the Mets was Ike Davis, who didn't show any signs of life after getting benched Monday night. Davis went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and has two hits in his last 34 at-bats. He is hitting .156.

You also may be interested in: