Carter's first homer backs Dickey's solid outing
BALTIMORE - The Mets discovered the trick to winning away from Citi Field on Friday night. Just stock the road stadium with as many friendly fans as possible - and play by American League rules.
Simple, right? But it only works within a three-hour drive from New York, and on nights when the Mets can use the designated hitter, which Friday was Chris Carter.
With thousands of vocal fans among the crowd of 28,554 at Camden Yards, the Mets benefited from Carter's three-run homer, the first homer of his big-league career, and another standout performance from R.A. Dickey in beating the Orioles, 5-1.
As soon as Jose Reyes opened the game with a double off the rightfield wall, a loud cheer erupted, indicating this would not be a typical road game for the Mets. Reyes later scored on David Wright's run-scoring double and they never trailed in improving to just 9-18 away from home this season.
"It was good to have that kind of support," Wright said. "We could just close our eyes and think we were at Citi Field. It helped bring that intensity on the road with us."
Camden Yards felt like home for Wright for many reasons. It was not far from where he grew up in Virginia - "You get that fresh air," he said - and it reminded him of attending Orioles games as a kid. Not to mention Wright was back hitting third as Jerry Manuel dropped Jason Bay to fifth.
But Wright had a hand in Friday's victory before he even stepped to the plate in mentioning to Carter that he would go deep over the wall in right-centerfield. Sure enough, Carter smacked a 1-and-1 changeup off Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie that cleared the 373-foot mark in that same location.
"I was like, 'Oh my God, is that going out?' " Carter said. "It was a great feeling. It really was. David called it."
Said Wright: "I tell him every day he's going to hit a home run. Everybody in here wants C.C. to do well."
As for Dickey, the Mets had their fingers crossed when he took over for the demoted Oliver Perez back on May 19 - and no one could have predicted this type of success. He became only the fourth Mets pitcher to go 4-0 in his first five starts and he lowered his ERA to 2.78. Dickey also had a career-high eight strikeouts.
"I had a real good [knuckleball] from the beginning and I kept trusting it," Dickey said. "Any time you see hitters of that caliber swinging and missing, you feel pretty good about what you have."
Dickey allowed seven hits and he went seven innings for the second time in three starts. In the fourth, he escaped a no-outs, bases-loaded jam.
The Orioles scored their lone run on a wild pitch with two outs in the seventh inning. Catcher Rod Barajas was relieved it was the only pitch he failed to corral all night.
"Tonight was the hardest thing I ever had to do behind the plate," Barajas said, smiling. "His ball was moving more than I'd ever seen. I was happy with my performance."
Manuel even joked that maybe he should have called in Angel Pagan from centerfield to back up Barajas. But with two games left in Baltimore, the Mets can only hope Dickey's knuckleball remains on the Orioles' minds for the rest of the visit.
"If that's the hypothesis," Dickey said, "now we have the rest of the weekend to see if that holds up."