ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Johan Santana might own the only no-hitter in Mets history, but R.A. Dickey and his magic knuckleball carved out a significant niche in the annals of a pitching-rich franchise Wednesday night at Tropicana Field. Dickey broke Jerry Koosman's 1973 record for consecutive scoreless innings while throwing his second career one-hitter in a 9-1 victory over Tampa Bay.
Dickey technically surpassed Koosman's 312/3 scoreless innings when he completed the eighth, recording his career-high 12th strikeout. The streak ended in the ninth when leadoff batter Elliot Johnson, the second Ray to reach base, was safe on a throwing error by third baseman David Wright. Johnson advanced on two passed balls by Mike Nickeas and scored when Desmond Jennings grounded out for the second out.
"We were two plays from a perfect game," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We got as close to that as I've ever been around in my 42 years. I've never seen anything like this. Never. I've seen some dominant pitching, but nothing like he's going through right now."
Dickey (10-1, 2.20) will be credited with 322/3 consecutive scoreless innings, and he and the Cardinals' Lance Lynn are the first with 10 wins. Dickey has won a career-best eight straight decisions, and he's struck out 58 and walked four in his past six games, including none by the Rays.
Dickey's other one-hitter came on Aug. 13, 2010, when Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels got the hit. This time, Dickey began by striking out the first two Rays before B.J. Upton was credited with a single when Wright tried to barehand a bouncer down the line and dropped it.
Collins said the Mets might appeal the ruling, but he doesn't hold out much hope of a reversal. Asked about a possible appeal, Dickey said, "I don't know. It's up to them. I mean, B.J. is quick, and I've seen David make that play a lot of times with his bare hand. It just ticked off his palm a little bit."
Describing the play, Wright said, "I wish it would have been somebody slower where I could have taken my time and gloved it."
Following that play, Dickey retired 22 straight batters. "I was in the moment with every pitch," he said. "I was able to keep the ball in the strike zone . . . and try to work as quickly as possible. It makes for a fun night. I really enjoyed my craft tonight."
David Price gave up three runs in the fifth and was removed in a six-run sixth. Ike Davis hit an RBI double to drive in the first run, and Wright, Daniel Murphy and Omar Quintanilla each drove in two runs.
But it was Dickey who earned the postgame chants from thousands of Mets fans in the crowd of 18,496. "He's at a different level right now," Wright said. "It seems like he can add and subtract velocity, make it go left and right. It's craft. It's a science, and he's mastered it."
Dickey has talked about learning to control the elevated knuckler, and Collins said he's making it do things no one has seen a baseball do.
"When I can change their eye level from pitch to pitch when I want to with a pitch that doesn't spin, it's a very difficult pitch to hit," Dickey said. "I was able to do that again tonight, and you saw the results.
"As far as making it move in, out or down, some of that is just up to the way the world is rotating. I don't pretend to be some kind of knuckleball sherpa."
Of course, he meant "guru," but you get the idea.