NEW YORK – Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey took a three-hitter into the ninth inning and Carlos Beltran and the New York Mets feasted on Zach Duke and the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 9-1 victory Tuesday night.
Dickey's tricky pitch was no match for the inexperienced Pittsburgh Pirates. He didn't allow an extra-base hit until pinch-hitter Pedro Ciriaco tripled to lead off the ninth. John Bowker's grounder to shortstop ended the shutout bid. The 35-year-old Dickey (11-6) finished the five-hitter for the third complete game of his career.
The Pirates lost their 57th road game and must win three of their final nine away games to avoid matching the 1963 New York Mets for the worst road record (17-64) in a 162-game season.
Coming in, opponents had a .320 average against Duke (7-14), and the soft-hitting Mets put on one of their best offensive displays of the season.
Beltran homered and hit a two-run double, driving in more than two runs for the first time since June 11, 2009.
Nick Evans followed up his game-winning hit in the 10th inning Monday with a single and a monstrous home run in his first two at-bats, and Ruben Tejada had a career-high three hits to lift his average above .200. Tejada also started two splendid double plays to back Dickey.
The Mets opened each of the first four innings with hits and scored all their runs. Jose Reyes led off the first with single and scored on Angel Pagan's single. Evans started it off in the second with a single and he scored on Pagan's bases-loaded double. All three runners scored on Pagan's hit when converted catcher Ryan Doumit had trouble picking up the ball in right field for an error to make it 4-0.
Beltran homered leading off the third. Evans followed two outs later with a drive that landed just to the left of the home run apple in straightaway center field, getting a buzz from the sparse and sleepy crowd.
Tejada singled to open the fourth and scored on Reyes' single, which mercifully ended Duke's night.
Duke followed up his last start of one-plus inning, six hits and four runs with an effort of 3 1-3 innings, nine hits and eight runs — seven earned.
Beltran hit a two-run double off Joe Martinez to make it 9-0.
Dickey, meanwhile, breezed through the rookie-heavy lineup, allowing singles in the first, fourth and eighth. He gave up walks in the second, third and seventh. Three double plays wiped out runners and he struck out the side in the fifth.
NOTES: Mets LHP Johan Santana had surgery on his pitching shoulder Tuesday. When he will return next season is uncertain. ... Several New York Islanders took batting practice before the Mets took their turn in the cage. ... The Pirates are 0-5 at Citi Field. They have two more games in this series.
(This version CORRECTS Mets 9, Pirates 1. Corrects Pirates to 57 road losses.)