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Mets 6, Pirates 5

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NEW YORK -- He had specifically craved this moment, as much for the fans chanting and cheering his name as for himself.

R.A. Dickey had wanted an extra shot at home, a chance to give New York Mets fans one more chance to share the last bit of sheer joy their season had to offer after several months of misery.

Now, with some help from David Wright, whose three-run homer provided the difference in a 6-5 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday at Citi Field, Dickey had given it to them.

He stumbled early but recovered after his teammates gave him a lead. As he walked off the field to another standing ovation with one on and two outs in the eighth, Dickey did so having tied a career high with 13 strikeouts.

He walked off slowly, absorbing the cheers for a storybook season in which a 37-year-old knuckleballer became the Mets' first 20-win pitcher since Frank Viola in 1990.

He had again done nothing to harm his chances for a NL Cy Young award, his ERA going up a sliver to 2.69, but joining Washington's Gio Gonzalez as the majors' only 20-game winners.

The fans chanted his name and cheered. Dickey lifted his cap, waving it all around. The announced crowd was 31,506 and, unlike most days here in the season's stretch run, the fans' volume did not make the number appear inflated.

The Mets, who left Citi Field cavernous and depressing through a second half that saw them win just four games since the All-Star break before last weekend, offered a glimpse of the season's more promising first half.

They also, of course, nearly gave away the goodwill, with Jon Rauch allowing a two-run homer to Alex Presley with one out in the ninth, to bring the Pirates within 6-5. Manager Terry Collins had been booed after taking Dickey out in the eighth following Dickey's 128th pitch and now he was again, as it was up to Bobby Parnell to save the milestone victory.

But Parnell retired two batters to earn his fifth save of the season and secure the win.

It was the final hand on a day when Dickey needed his teammates' assistance.

Early on, Dickey and the Mets appeared potentially snake bit, with Jordy Mercer's 60-feet dribbler down the third base line driving in a run to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead in the second.

After Rod Barajas nearly single-handedly tainted Dickey's day with a RBI double in the second and a solo homer in the fourth to give the Pirates a 3-1 lead, the Mets' once-impotent offense came back.

Ike Davis had homered in the second, and Mike Baxter had made his bid to do the same the same inning. But Pirates right fielder Travis Snider stunned the crowd, playing Spider-man as he scaled the wall, propelling himself even further by pushing off with his right hand before fully extending himself to make a snowcone catch.

As he tumbled to the ground, he held his glove up, the white of the ball still peeking out from up top.

Baxter, who made the spectacular catch in left to save Johan Santana's no-hitter, back in June when the Mets thought they might be able to cheer for a lot more than a 20-game winner, could only retreat to the dugout.

But the Mets pushed across a run to make it 3-2 in the fourth on Scott Hairston's RBI single. Wright, who had given Mets' fans reason to cheer Wednesday when he became their all-time hit leader, then drilled a three-run homer to right center, where not even Snider could reach it, for a 6-3 lead.

Dickey appeared emboldened by the support, having settled down to strike out the side in the fifth and allowing just three base runners in his final 3 2/3 innings.

The day provided not just a farewell to baseball at Citi Field, but an element of welcoming it back.

The Mets entered the home finale having won five of their last six. They celebrated Wright putting himself atop the franchise's all-time hit list Wednesday night and savored Dickey's shot at his 20th win.

They greeted him with chants of "R.A. Dickey" from the time he walked into the bullpen and throughout the game.

NOTES: Former Met Keith Hernandez had his famous mustache shaved in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda as fans watched before Thursday's game, as part of a charity event. Hernandez's famous facial hair had been intact for 25 years, but was shaved as part of a promotion in which Schick Hydro donated $5,000 to the Jacquelyn Hernandez Adult Day Care Center in Brooklyn. The center, named for Hernandez's mother, who suffered from Alzheimer's Disease, serves the elderly, disabled and Alzheimer's patients. ... Pirates second baseman Neil Walker missed his third straight game due to a lower back issue, and will meet with a doctor for a previously scheduled appointment Friday in Pittsburgh. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Walker could be shut down the rest of the season. ... Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen left the game in the seventh with discomfort in his left knee after making a diving attempt on a ball.
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