Dickey (18-4): I've had better days

ST. LOUIS -- Mets starter R.A. Dickey and catcher Josh Thole admitted that the pitcher with the best record in baseball wasn't himself Wednesday against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

The opinion was not shared by the Cards, who had a difficult time hitting Dickey's increasingly celebrated knuckleball.

Dickey held the Cards to eight hits in 6 2/3 innings and became MLB's first 18-game winner in helping lead the Mets to a 6-2 win over St. Louis to break a two-game losing streak. He struck out 5 and only yielded a single walk.

"It was a battle for me," said Dickey. "I didn't have a great feel for it. It was a little bit like my last outing. It got better in the fourth and fifth inning. I threw a couple of more fastballs than I normally would have because we had a little bit of a lead and I didn't want to fall behind in the counts. I'm pleased with the result obviously but I've got some work to do."

Dickey said a three-run home run from Ike Davis, his 26th, in the third off Cards starter Adam Wainwright, gave him the opportunity to slip some different pitches to St. Louis.

"He (Davis) freed me up a little bit at times and I could use some pitches that I knew I could command for strikes," said Dickey. "A sinker, a little cutter and a few more. I need to get back to the way I felt early on. I need to get back to the bullpen and get my arm up a little bit and Dan [pitching coach Dan Warthen] helped me identify with a couple of things I need to be diligent about doing consistently. Throughout the course of the year, you always have little hiccups. If a hiccup occurs and you get a win, that's great."

Mets manager Terry Collins visited the mound in the seventh after Dickey got pinch hitter Allen Craig to hit into a double play. Jon Jay then singled and Collins replaced his ace.

"He battled very, very hard today," said Collins. "He worked himself out of it as he always has."

Collins said Dickey had his knuckleball working at times against St. Louis.

"The thing that separates him from most guys is that he throws it with some velocity and he throws it for strikes," said Collins. "Guys go up there and they try and work the count and the next thing they know they're 0-2."