Washington, DC – R.A. Dickey continued his stellar season by pitching into the eighth inning, Lucas Duda hit a two-run home run and the New York Mets avoided a sweep with a 3-1 victory over the Washington Nationals on Thursday.
Dickey (9-1) allowed four hits and two walks while striking out eight through 7 1/3 innings. He has not allowed a run over his last 24 2/3 innings on the mound.
"The thing that I care most about is giving our team a chance to win," said Dickey. "I've said that from day one."
Frank Francisco allowed a leadoff home run to Ryan Zimmerman in the ninth, but retired the next three batters to earn his 15th save of the season for the Mets, who snapped a three-game losing streak.
Chien-Ming Wang (1-2) gave up two runs on eight hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings to take the loss for Washington, which had won three of its last four games.
"I liked his arm strength and everything," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said of Wang. "He's having a little problem, he gets to the side of the ball. He doesn't stay on top of it. Sometimes he gets out of the slot that he needs to be in. When he stays in that slot, his stuff is outstanding. It's just a consistency thing with him."
The Mets left the bases loaded in both the second and third innings, but were finally able to break through in the fifth inning when Duda pulled a two-run homer over the right-center field wall. Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit a leadoff single prior to Duda's two-out blast.
David Wright then worked a leadoff walk off Tom Gorzelanny in the seventh, stole second, advanced to third on a Duda groundout and crossed the plate on Daniel Murphy's base hit to right field to give New York a 3-0 lead.
Washington threatened to cut into its deficit in the bottom of the frame by placing runners on first and second with no outs, but Michael Morse hit a fielder's choice to short before Ian Desmond grounded into an inning-ending double play to keep the Nationals off the board.
The Nationals threatened again when Dickey was replaced by Bobby Parnell after Jhonathan Solano's one-out single in the eighth inning. Parnell immediately walked Rick Ankiel, but back-to-back grounders by Steve Lombardozzi and Bryce Harper ended the threat.
Zimmerman, though, ended the Mets' shutout bid when he led off the ninth with a shot over the left-field wall.
Dickey has won four straight starts and seven straight decisions. He improved to 3-4 in 11 career games -- 10 starts -- against Washington...Wang fell to 2-3 in six career starts against New York...Mets outfielder Jason Bay was scheduled to make his first start since April 23 because of a fractured rib, but was scratched prior to the game due to the flu...Washington reinstated pitcher Brad Lidge off the 15-day disabled list and placed pitcher Henry Rodriguez on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 6, earlier Thursday.