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R.A. Dickey pitches into 8th inning, hits 2-run single to lead Mets over Astros 5-1

R.A. Dickey flustered the Houston Astros with knuckleballs and foiled them with his bat, leading the New York Mets to a 5-1 victory Sunday.

Josh Thole homered and Dickey keyed a second-inning rally with a two-run single that helped the Mets end Bud Norris' four-game winning streak. New York took two of three from the Astros and hasn't lost a series at home to Houston since 2002.

Luis Castillo added an RBI single and the Mets went 4-3 against the Astros the past two weeks in a season series marked by some strikingly inept offense on both sides.

Dickey (9-5) yielded six hits in seven-plus innings and had a pair of singles at the plate to aid his own cause. He was pulled following Tommy Manzella's leadoff single in the eighth and received a warm ovation from the Citi Field crowd of 32,779.

Bobby Parnell induced a double-play grounder from No. 3 batter Hunter Pence, then gave up a single and a double before retiring Jason Michaels to end the inning. Hisanori Takahashi worked a scoreless ninth.

Houston had won six of seven and 11 of 16. The Astros finished 6-4 on this trip for their first winning road swing since June 29 to July 5, 2009.

A surprise bright spot for the Mets this season, Dickey is making a strong bid for a place in New York's rotation next year, too. He allowed one run and threw 75 of 108 pitches for strikes Sunday, again showing a unique ability to command his dancing knuckleball — perhaps the most difficult pitch to master.

Norris (6-8) entered 4-0 with a 3.03 ERA in six starts since July 28, including a 3-2 victory over the Mets on Aug. 19 at home. Houston was unbeaten in those six games and the right-hander had gone at least six innings in all of them, but New York snapped that string.

David Wright drew a leadoff walk in the second and went to third on Ike Davis' double. A walk to Thole loaded the bases before Luis Hernandez struck out.

That brought up Dickey, who came into the game batting .171 with three RBIs. He bounced a single up the middle to put the Mets in front, and they never looked back.

Angel Pagan followed with an RBI groundout and Castillo dumped a run-scoring single into right-center. In the previous five games, New York was 4 for 34 (.118) with runners in scoring position.

Jason Castro doubled to start the third for Houston and scored from third on an infield single by Michael Bourn.

Thole hit a solo shot in the sixth off a soda sign on the facing of the second deck in right, his second homer of the season.

NOTES: Geoff Blum started at 2B for Houston. He rejoined the team Saturday after missing three games with discomfort in his neck. Blum, who hit a tying homer off Dickey in the ninth inning Aug. 18, went 2 for 4 with a double. ... Carlos Lee was at first base again for the Astros instead of slumping rookie Brett Wallace. Houston manager Brad Mills said it was a good day to get Michaels a start in Citi Field's spacious left field, Lee's regular spot. The lumbering Lee entered 7 for 11 with a homer and five RBIs against Dickey before going 0 for 3 against him. ... Astros closer Matt Lindstrom, on the disabled list since Aug. 17 with a back strain, said he planned to throw in the bullpen. The session was pushed back Saturday because Lindstrom felt some stiffness in his back. ... Houston 2B Jeff Keppinger (left big toe) was scheduled to get three at-bats in a rehab game with Double-A Corpus Christi. Keppinger has been on the DL since Aug. 17. ... Hernandez, called up Friday from Triple-A Buffalo, made his first start for the Mets in place of ailing SS Jose Reyes (right oblique strain), who took a few swings in the indoor cage but isn't ready to return yet. Hernandez didn't even have a nameplate in the New York lineup listed outside the clubhouse — his name was written in blue marker.