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R.A. Dickey racks up third shutout of season

R.A. Dickey, left, and catcher Josh Thole celebrate

R.A. Dickey, left, and catcher Josh Thole celebrate after the Mets defeated the Miami Marlins 3-0. (Aug. 31, 2012) Credit: AP

MIAMI -- R.A Dickey took another step toward a 20-win season and National League Cy Young Award consideration Friday night with his third shutout of the season, a 3-0 victory over the Marlins at Marlins Park.

Dickey (17-4, 2.63 ERA) beat Miami for the fourth time this season, allowing only five hits -- all singles -- and three walks and striking out seven in a 115-pitch masterpiece. Dickey has had more success against the Marlins (9-2) than any other team in his career.

"When he makes his speech for the Cy Young Award, make sure he mentions the Marlins, please," Miami manager Ozzie Guillen said after Dickey's knuckleball gutted the Fish.

Mets manager Terry Collins said, "He threw some knuckleballs tonight that nobody can hit."

Dickey, who tied the Reds' Johnny Cueto and the Nationals' Gio Gonzalez for the major-league lead in wins, is likely to make six more starts this year. If he wins half of them, he will become the first Met to win 20 since Frank Viola in 1990. But he continues to insist that neither 20 wins nor the Cy Young Award is foremost on his mind.

"I don't really give it much thought," he said. "I feel good about competing for 18 right now. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. That's how it's been for me, and I don't want to get out of that place regardless of how many times people ask me.

"Sure, I hope for it. What pitcher and what little kid doesn't as he grows up want to be a Cy Young Award winner? Obviously, that hope is inside me. At the same time, I've got to be able to hold that hope and then hold the job at hand. And the job at hand is the St. Louis Cardinals in five days. And so that's where I'll be."

Dickey acknowledged that other pitchers might use 20 wins and the Cy Young Award as a motivator. But he's finding that not thinking about it is working.

"For me," he said. "Everybody's different. But I've found that when I don't live in the moment, it doesn't work that well for R.A."

Collins, who said Dickey would get his vote if he had one, said: "This guy wants to win the Cy Young, he wants the opportunity to win 20 games, but he's not about to put that over and above what the team's about, and that's winning. I think that's what makes him a special guy. It really does. He's all about the team."

For the fifth time in six games, the Mets team was all about winning. Ike Davis had a sacrifice fly in the fourth and a long two-run home run in the seventh off Nathan Eovaldi (4-10) for all of the scoring. The home run into the upper deck in right was Davis' 25th and gave him 74 RBIs, second on the team to David Wright's 78.

But the story was Dickey, who was dominant despite pitching the early innings with baseballs he said were too slick because they had not been rubbed down enough by the umpires.

"It's like you just take them out of the box and 'here you go, go play,' " Dickey said. "I told Scott [Barry], the home-plate umpire, and he tried to give me some ones that were a little more rubbed up. Balls -- they're like snowflakes, you know? No two balls are alike."

Notes & quotes: Josh Thole went 0-for-3 and is hitless in his last 28 at-bats . . . Jason Bay entered the game in the ninth as a defensive replacement in left . . . With rosters expanding Saturday, the Mets called up catcher Mike Nickeas and infielder Zach Lutz. Jordany Valdespin is not eligible to come back until Tuesday. Collin McHugh will be called up Monday to start against the Cardinals and a few more players could get the call once Buffalo's season ends Monday, Collins said.

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