ST. LOUIS - Despite the fact that the Mets' R.A. Dickey did not have his best knuckleball working for him on Wednesday, he still was able to record his 18th win of the season thanks to a different pitch.
Dickey relied more on his sinker on this day, battling into the seventh inning, to lead the Mets to a 6-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
"I didn't have a good feel for it early on," said Dickey about his knuckleball. "I threw a couple more fastballs than I ordinarily would have because we had the lead. I'm pleased with the result, but I've got some work to do."
The fact he was able to get the win in that fashion was impressive to catcher Josh Thole.
"Today definitely was not his best knuckleball," Thole said. "It was good for a few hitters, then it would go away. He put his ego away and said ‘I'm going to have to use my sinker now.' He got a big double play with the sinker, and good quick outs with his sinker instead of just firing the knuckleball in there when it was not doing a whole lot."
The 18 wins for Dickey are the most in the National League and, with at least five more starts left in the season, it would be understandable if getting to the 20-victory mark was on Dickey's radar.
It would be understandable, but wrong.
"I hope for that," Dickey said. "I hope to win beyond 20. ... Getting to that plateau would be really satisfying to me, I think, but you will have to ask me after it happens. Right now I've got some work to do before I face Washington in six days. That's where my mind will be."
New York Manager Terry Collins is able to look beyond Dickey's next start to see what it would mean if Dickey does get those two additional wins, or more.
"I was there when he got sent out two years ago and we had some minor league rules and he never hedged," said Collins, the Mets' director of player development at the time." He had to do some things and he did it without saying a word. The whole story of what he has had to get through to where he is at today is truly one of the great stories in sports.
"It's a great story for all of us to tell our grandkids and our kids about perseverance. Guys who have it inside, and are willing to persevere and pay the price and deal with adversity and not let it get them down, there's always something there at the end.
"He's not one to get caught up in individual accomplishments but he's on the verge of doing something that may only come along one time. We're going to do what we can to help accomplish it."
Dickey's help Wednesday came from Ike Davis in the form of a three-run homer, his 26th of the year.
"I'm real proud of Ike," Dickey said, "The whole time he knew he was a good hitter. He has that confidence that I don't know if you can really teach. He has stuck to his guns."
The 18 wins are the most for the Mets since Frank Viola won 20 and Dwight Gooden 19, both in 1990. One of those wins was a shutout over the Cardinals in June.
"That's tough assignment," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "This guy has got a lot of wins for a reason. He makes a lineup have fits and it can carry on for a while too after you face a guy and try to fight through a knuckleball. It can stick with you, so I thought our guys did a nice job."
Matheny's starting pitcher, Adam Wainwright, did not have a good day - except at the plate, where he hit his sixth career homer for one of the two St. Louis runs.
"I'm a three-run homer from keeping us in the game," Wainwright said. "I wasn't sharp by any means. I was battling my arm slot again. Two games in a row I didn't put guys away. I get guys 0-2, 1-2 and you're supposed to get them out. They get hits and that's how you give up crooked numbers and how you lose the game."
NOTES: Outfielder Matt Holliday was one of four Cardinal regulars not in the starting lineup against Dickey. He had left Tuesday night's game in the seventh inning, after his back tightened up, but he said he had already been told he would not play on Wednesday. David Freese, Allen Craig and Yadier Molina also had the day off. ... The Mets say they will meet on Friday to make a decision about whether to give rookie Matt Harvey one or two more starts this season. Combined between Triple A and the majors, Harvey has thrown 157 innings. ... Mets pitcher Mike Pelfrey, recovering from Tommy John surgery, stopped in to visit his teammates during the series against the Cardinals. Pelfrey made the trip from his home in Wichita, Kan. ... RHP Jeurys Familia made his major league debut for the Mets on Tuesday night with one scoreless inning. He gave up one hit and struck out Lance Berkman on a 97-mph fastball. ... The Mets returned home after the game and will open a three-game series against Atlanta on Friday night. Paul Maholm will pitch for the Braves against Jonathon Niese. After their off day Thursday, the Cardinals will host Milwaukee Friday night. Yovani Gallardo will start against Kyle Lohse.