NEW YORK -- When Terry Collins walked to the plate to make a double switch in the ninth inning, home plate umpire Tim Tschida told the skipper what surely had to be on the minds of the befuddled Padres hitters who'd been helpless in 7 1/3 innings against R.A. Dickey.
"Tschida said, 'I've never seen the ball do that kind of stuff,'" Collins said, "Tells you how good [the knuckleball] was."
Dickey continued the theme of excellent pitching for the Mets against the Padres as his scoreless innings propelled the Mets to a 2-0 win over San Diego. Dickey had 10 strikeouts, the first time he's recorded double-digit strikeouts in back-to-back games. In fact, he's the first Mets pitcher to do so since Pedro Martinez in May, 2006.
His 7 1/3 innings contributed to a streak of 26 scoreless innings by the pitching staff to end the four-game set, the longest stretch by the Mets since 2010.
"The game is about ebbs and flows and right now I'm fortunate to be in the middle of a flow," Dickey said. "The key is don't get out of the water, regardless of where you are."
Against a weak-hitting San Diego team, Dickey worked quick and efficiently, mowing through the order for most of the game. He entered the game undefeated in his last six starts, and didn't miss a beat, tying the lead league with his seventh win.
The veteran said he was able to change speeds on his knuckleball, finding ways to elevate some of the pitches. He's getting more of a feel to his pitch, which he said is exciting. At times, it seemed like San Diego's hitters were just swinging at air as they chased the knuckleball.
"Overall, I feel pretty good with where it is right now," Dickey said.
The Mets scored solo runs in the first and fifth, and Dickey made sure that held the rest of the game. He worked around a one-out double in the seventh and after putting two men on in the eighth with one out, Collins pulled him from the game.
Dickey said he could've stayed in, but with Tim Byrdak ready to come in, and the lineup turning over for the third time, he didn't put up a fight. Dickey has now won his last five decisions and the team has won his last seven starts.
"The last couple of outings has been insane," catcher Mike Nickeas said. "It's been really crazy. R.A.'s knuckleball has been fantastic these last two outings."
Among a pitching staff, there's always a healthy competition to be as good -- if not better -- than the previous day's starter. As he took the mound Sunday, Dickey had the pressure of following two excellent outings.
Dillon Gee tossed seven innings of one-run ball Friday, and Johan Santana threw a complete game shutout Saturday. While Dickey didn't go the distance like Santana, his performance carried the good vibes surrounding the Mets to their third straight win.
"It's nice to be able to celebrate some good outings all in a row," Dickey said. "Hopefully, the next guy who takes the ball feels an obligation to keep it where it's at now. I certainly did after Johan passed the gauntlet."