Knuckleballing sensation R.A. Dickey can stay unbeaten against the Cincinnati Reds tonight when the New York Mets return to Great American Ball Park to face them in the second leg of a three-game series.
The 37-year-old Nashville native aims for a more successful pitching gem than in Tuesday's opener, which the Reds won, 3-0, in the ninth inning on a three- run home run from Jay Bruce.
Cincinnati, which stranded 14 runners and was 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position through the first eight frames, got its first two runners on in the ninth when Brandon Phillips walked and Ryan Ludwick singled off Manny Acosta (1-3).
Lefty Josh Edgin came on to face Bruce, who hammered his fourth career walk- off blast into the front row of seats in left field to give the National League Central Division leaders their fourth straight win.
"They put them out there, we put them out there, and we finally came through in the ninth," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "It was some ballgame."
Cincinnati was unable to capitalize in the third when it had runners on the corners with one out and left the bases loaded in the sixth and seventh innings. The only time the Reds were set down in order was when Bobby Parnell fired a 1-2-3 eighth.
Reds starter Mat Latos scattered five hits and walked two over seven scoreless frames. He is 5-1 with a 1.77 ERA over his last 10 starts.
Mets starter Chris Young wobbled through 5 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing eight hits and four walks while fanning four for New York, which has dropped six of its last eight games.
The Mets finished 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base.
"We had opportunities. We have to find a way to score with runners on base and less than two outs," Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Dickey, who'd won 41 games in 204 appearances heading into this season, picked up his 15th win of a magical 2012 on Aug. 9 when he allowed a run on five hits in a 6-1 complete-game defeat of Miami.
He's pitched seven or more innings in three straight starts dating back to July 29 - winning two of the three - while giving up three earned runs on 13 hits in 23 combined innings.
He's 1-0 in two career meetings with the Reds with a 3.55 earned run average after allowing six runs on 13 hits in 12 2/3 innings.
In 12 road starts this season, he's 8-2 with a stingy 2.78 ERA.
The Reds start righty Mike Leake, who's seeking his first win since July 24.
The 24-year-old Californian improved to 4-6 on the season with a 4-2 defeat of Houston in that game but has since dropped one game and picked up a pair of no-decisions.
He was chased after 1 2/3 innings of an 11-5 loss to San Diego on July 30, then pitched six innings in consecutive starts against Pittsburgh and the Chicago Cubs - in which the Reds went 1-1 - while allowing seven runs on 12 hits.
He's 0-1 in three career meetings with the Mets.
The Reds won four of the first five games between the teams in 2012, including three straight in a series at Citi Field in June. The teams split a two-game set in New York in May.
The Mets won the 2011 season series, 5-2.