Published September 01, 2012
| Sports Network
Rookie right-hander Jeremy Hefner can match a teammate's pitching gem with one of his own on Saturday when the New York Mets visit Marlins Park for the second test of a three-game weekend series with the Miami Marlins.
On Friday, New York starter R.A. Dickey (17-4) joined the Cincinnati Reds' Johnny Cueto atop the National League leaderboard in wins and tossed his NL- best third shutout and fifth complete game in beating the Marlins, 3-0.
"When you look what he's done the entire year, he's racked up numbers against every team in baseball," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "No matter who he's faced, he's pitched great."
The knuckleballer gave up five hits and struck out seven with three walks. He lowered his earned run average to 2.63 in the process.
"He was good," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I think it was the best I've ever seen him throw."
"I didn't have a great feel for (the knuckleball) at the beginning of the game," Dickey said. "As the night went on I was getting big swings and movement, like I'm accustomed to getting."
Ike Davis knocked in three runs and provided the big blow for the Mets' offense, crushing a two-run home run in the seventh inning to send the Mets to their fifth win in six games.
Nathan Eovaldi (4-10) took the loss despite matching a career best with seven innings pitched. He gave up three runs on four hits and a walk.
New York's Hefner, a product of Oral Roberts University, was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2007 and waived by two teams - San Diego and Pittsburgh - before signing on with the Mets in December 2011.
He's made 10 appearances at Triple-A Buffalo this season and was 5-2 with a 2.77 earned run average. He debuted in the majors on April 23 with a three- inning relief outing against San Francisco.
Win No. 1 came against Philadelphia after a six-inning start on May 29 in which he allowed three runs on six hits with four strikeouts in a 6-3 triumph.
He's not won since defeating San Diego on Aug. 4, going 0-1 in five appearances - including a tough-luck no-decision in his last start on Aug. 26, in which he allowed a run on five hits in eight innings against Houston.
Hefner tossed an inning of scoreless relief, with one walk, against the Marlins on Aug. 8.
For Miami, 6-foot-7 righty Josh Johnson aims to continue a long-term run of success against the Mets.
Now a veteran of 149 big-league appearances, Johnson has faced the Mets 16 times and is 8-2 against them while posting a 2.70 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 100 innings - allowing a .229 batting average.
He dropped a 6-1 verdict to New York in their last meeting on Aug. 9 after allowing three runs in eight hits in six innings.
The 28-year-old Minnesota native has dropped four straight starts since last winning at Washington on Aug. 3.
The Mets won five of the first nine games between the teams this season, though the Marlins took two of three in their last series - from Aug. 7-9 at Citi Field. The teams split their 2011 series, nine games apiece.