Dickey aims for win No. 18 in St. Louis finale

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Cy Young Award candidate R.A. Dickey aims for the National League lead in victories on Wednesday when the New York Mets visit Busch Stadium for the finale of a three-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals.

A 37-year-old native of Nashville, Dickey had 41 career victories in 204 big- league appearances entering this season, in which he's established a career- high 17 victories that tie him with Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto for the NL standard.

Dickey turned in one of his best performances of the breakout season in his last start on Aug. 31 at Miami, where he tossed nine scoreless innings while allowing five hits and striking out seven in a 3-0 triumph.

It was his fifth complete games of the season and lowered his season-long earned run average from 2.76 to 2.63 while improving him to 9-3 in 14 road starts.

In six career games against St. Louis, he's 2-1 with a 4.44 ERA in 26 1/3 innings.

He'll be opposed by Cardinals veteran Adam Wainwright, who was third in the NL's Cy Young voting in 2009 and second in 2010 before missing the entire 2011 season to injury.

The Georgia native, who turned 31 on Aug. 30, had won six straight decisions between July 24 and Aug. 26 to get to 13-10 in his return season before dropping a 10-0 verdict at Washington.

In the seven-start unbeaten string, Wainwright allowed two runs or less in each start and pitched at least seven innings four times - including a pair of complete games.

He is 1-2 in five career games against the Mets and 9-5 in 15 home starts in 2012.

On Tuesday, Jaime Garcia allowed one unearned run over 7 1/3 innings as the Cardinals downed New York, 5-1.

Garcia (4-6) gave up nine hits and struck out five without issuing a walk to pick up his first win since May 16.

"He had a nice approach," Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny said. "It was a nice job of sticking with what his strengths are."

David Freese and Daniel Descalso both tallied two hits and drove in one run apiece for the Cardinals, who have won three of their last four.

Matt Harvey (3-4) gave up three runs on six hits and three walks while striking out four to absorb the loss. The rookie lasted just five innings.

"I'm not happy about it," Harvey said. "I should have been better."

David Wright, Ruben Tejada and Scott Hairston each picked up a pair of hits and Mike Baxter drove in the lone run for the Mets, who fell for just the third time in 10 game.

The teams have split season series in 2010 and 2011, with the Cardinals last winning, five games to four, in 2009. New York three of four games in 2012 when the teams played at Citi Field from June 1-4.