New York Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dickey (43) reacts after...

New York Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dickey (43) reacts after New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez (not pictured) grounds out with runners on first and second to end the bottom of the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium. (May 20, 2011) Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

For his first Subway Series game Friday night, Mets manager Terry Collins brought bouquets instead of brickbats to Yankee Stadium. He called the Yankees "the elite team in baseball" and said "everybody wants to be compared with the Yankees."

Some Mets fans might have preferred a more Rex Ryan-esque "we're not here to kiss Derek Jeter's rings," but Collins knows the Mets aren't as talented as the Yankees.

That doesn't mean they can't beat them.

Superb pitching from R.A. Dickey and three relievers and Daniel Murphy's tiebreaking home run in the sixth led the Mets to a 2-1 win in the opening act of the 15th year of the annual New York-New York battle.

The Mets, who have won three in a row, are 22-22 -- their first time at .500 since they were 4-4 on April 9. The Yankees (23-20), who had won three in a row, have lost six straight at home for the first time since 2003. They lead the all-time regular-season series 45-34.

The Mets have allowed one run in their last three games.

"Those guys have been truly, truly amazing," Collins said of his relievers. He didn't say "Amazin' " -- he hasn't been around here long enough to know about that.

Dickey (2-5) went six innings and allowed only a solo home run by Mark Teixeira. Mike O'Connor, Jason Isringhausen and Francisco Rodriguez (15th save) each pitched a perfect inning as the Mets retired the final 11 Yankees, seven by strikeout.

"When there's 50,000 people out there, to make them shut up at the end of the game is quite nice," Rodriguez said.

Of his team, surging without injured David Wright and Ike Davis, Collins said, "You've got to be proud of these guys."

The Yankees were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, the only hit an infield single by Derek Jeter. That's a night after scoring 13 runs in Baltimore.

"It's frustrating for us," manager Joe Girardi said. "Especially when you have the opportunities and you just don't get it done."

The Yankees had a chance to take the lead in the fifth thanks to a missed call by first-base umpire Jeff Kellogg, who ruled that Murphy's foot had come off the bag on a slow grounder to short by Brett Gardner. Replays indicated that Murphy's foot was where it was supposed to be.

It was a bit of karmic payback for the Mets, who got a gift out Thursday when Phil Cuzzi ruled Murphy had kept his foot on the bag on a ninth-inning play when in fact he hadn't. That helped the Mets to a 1-0 win over the Nationals.

After Gardner stole second, Jeter followed with an infield hit, but Dickey got the next two outs before Alex Rodriguez grounded what could have been a go-ahead single up the middle. But Jose Reyes snared the ball on a dive, scrambled to his feet and threw out Rodriguez.

"Tremendous play," Girardi said. "That's the difference in the game."

Said Collins: "The play Jose made to end that inning I thought lifted our club up. It gave our club energy, that hey, look, we're still in this game and then Murph hit the home run. That's one of those game-saving plays that you've got to have."

Murphy's home run off Freddy Garcia (2-4) thrilled the Mets portion of the non-sellout crowd of 47,874.

Justin Turner (3-for-4) drove in the Mets' first run with a two-out double in the fourth. Turner, who had three hits, picked up an RBI in his sixth straight game, tying the Mets rookie record set by Ron Swoboda in August 1965.

The Mets have battled back to. 500 from a low-water mark of 5-13 on April 20.

"When you fall down below .500 by eight games, it's a long way back," Collins said. "You can ask the Red Sox. You can ask the Rays. Anybody that got off to a slow start, it's a long, hard road back."

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