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Dickey struggles in 14-6 loss to Braves

Jason Bay #44 of the New York Mets

Jason Bay #44 of the New York Mets is unable to make a catch against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. (April 18, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

ATLANTA -- R.A. Dickey, after struggling in a steady rain, compared throwing his knuckleball Wednesday to trying to pitch with water balloons.

"It's hard to get the feel of it just right," Dickey said. "I was just not getting the finish and that extra movement around the plate. It just wasn't there. So it was staying flat, and they were doing what they do with BP fastballs."

Dickey was talking about the Braves, who hammered him for eight runs, including three homers, in only 41/3 innings as the Mets went belly up, 14-6, at Turner Field. Juan Francisco, Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman all went deep to end Dickey's streak of quality starts at 14, a stretch that dated to July 25.

So the Mets finished their road trip at 3-3, despite taking the first two games in Philadelphia. Atlanta's smackdown also overshadowed a historic afternoon for David Wright, whose three RBIs tied Darryl Strawberry for the Mets' record with 733.

"It was an ugly day, obviously with the weather and we didn't do much right," Wright said. "But when you're classified with a guy like Straw, a guy that I grew up idolizing, trying to mimic that swing, it's an honor to be in that group.

"I guess I'll enjoy it more when I'm done. But right now it doesn't mean all that much because we just got our tails beat up pretty bad."

Dickey (2-1) hadn't given up eight runs in a game since Aug. 20, 2008, when he was a Mariner. Five more pitchers were responsible for Atlanta's other six runs, and the staff surrendered 16 hits. A day earlier, Johan Santana had the shortest start of his career, so it was a sobering two games for a rotation that entered Wednesday with the third-best ERA (2.80) in the majors.

"You never expect that," Terry Collins said of the Santana-Dickey letdown, "and I would have to say I doubt we'll see it again."

The Mets handed Dickey leads of 1-0 and 3-2, but he failed to protect them before ultimately getting buried. Ike Davis' leadoff homer in the second inning was his third in four games, but Francisco hit a two-run shot in the bottom half. After Wright's two-run double in the third, a soaring drive that caromed off the centerfield wall, the Braves took the lead for good with four runs that same inning.

It was no coincidence that the Braves began pouring it on shortly after the skies did. As puddles formed, and play was stopped to fix the mound, Dickey allowed three straight hits in the third -- two singles and a two-run double by Martin Prado. Finally, he got Jason Heyward on a broken-bat pop-up for the first out. But Uggla, who had been 0-for-24 against Dickey, squared up a knuckleball and blasted it for a two-run homer that put the Braves ahead 6-3.

"It was disheartening because when I started the game, with the knuckleball I had, I thought we'd have a good chance of doing something kind of neat," Dickey said. "It just didn't keep rolling that way. Perhaps I need to maybe rethink my strategy when there's some wetter conditions. Maybe there's some things to learn from. I'll check in the tape and see."

This won't be a fun one to watch. Besides Dickey's struggles, the Mets left 11 on base. When Collins was asked if maybe play should have been halted and the tarp called for, the manager grumbled, "It's not my decision." Even so, the Braves seemed to be OK splashing around and kicking water in the faces of their NL East rival.

"They had to play in it, too," Wright said, "and they went out there and beat us in every part of the game. There was nothing that we did better than them."

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