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Mets-Cardinals Preview

AP - Sports

It's been 22 years since the New York Mets had an 18-game winner, and it's been even longer since they had a Cy Young Award winner.

R.A. Dickey can end one of those droughts Wednesday.

The knuckleballer looks to continue making his Cy Young case while trying to maintain baseball's lead in wins with another dazzling outing against the St. Louis Cardinals.

New York (64-72) will likely fail to reach the playoffs for a sixth straight year, but Dickey (17-4, 2.63 ERA) can't be blamed.

The right-hander is on the cusp of becoming the first Met to win at least 18 games since Frank Viola (20) and Dwight Gooden (19) in 1990.

Gooden's 1985 Cy Young is the most recent for the franchise, and Dickey has taken aim at ending that drought.

"Sure I hope for it. What pitcher, what little kid doesn't grow up wanting to be a Cy Young winner? Obviously, the hope is inside me," Dickey said.

Dickey is tied for the most wins in baseball with Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto, Tampa Bay's David Price and Washington's Gio Gonzalez, who is scheduled to start later Wednesday.

Dickey has certainly pitched like a Cy Young winner over his last three starts, going 2-0 while yielding two runs and 13 hits in 23 innings. He was spectacular again Friday, throwing his NL-leading fifth complete game with a five-hitter in a 3-0 victory at Miami.

"I'm running out of things to say about him," manager Terry Collins said.

Dickey is 2-0 with a 1.52 ERA in three starts against the Cardinals since 2010, including a seven-hitter while fanning nine in a 5-0 home victory June 2.

He may need a similar performance in order to help New York avoid being swept in this three-game set after falling 5-1 Wednesday.

The Cardinals (74-62), who hold the NL's second wild-card spot, are eying a sweep by giving the ball to Adam Wainwright (13-11, 3.90). The right-hander is also looking to rebound from one of the worst starts of his career.

Wainwright was tagged for six runs and nine hits with three walks in 2 2-3 innings of Friday's 10-0 loss at Washington. It matched the shortest start of his career from May 15, 2007, and followed an outstanding stretch of seven starts in which he went 6-0 with a 1.80 ERA.

"Just a really weird night," Wainwright said. "Nothing that's going to do anything but motivate me for next time. Definitely a loss you can pin on my shoulders."

Perhaps being back home will help. He's won six starts in a row in St. Louis behind a 1.42 ERA while accumulating 45 strikeouts in 44 1-3 innings.

Wainwright's only start against the Mets at Busch Stadium was a complete game, 5-3 win on April 18, 2010. He's posted a 10.32 ERA in losing two meetings with them since, including an 8-0 defeat June 1 while allowing seven runs in 6 1-3 innings.

Matt Holliday's status is unclear after he exited Tuesday's victory with lower back tightness. He's among the league leaders with 92 RBIs and is batting .305, but is in a 6-for-29 (.207) slump.

Carlos Beltran is in a 5-for-39 funk, but it's unclear if he'll get a chance to break out of that Wednesday. Beltran missed a second straight game Tuesday to rest his sore left knee, though manager Mike Matheny said he could return for the finale.

Beltran is 2 for 18 versus his former team this year.

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