R.A. Dickey strikes out 10 as Mets fend off Padres

NEW YORK -- R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana and the New York Mets toyed with the punchless San Diego Padres for a weekend.

They know the real test begins Monday, though, when the rival Philadelphia Phillies come to town.

Dickey struck out 10 to reach double digits for strikeouts in consecutive games for the first time in his career, and the Mets held the Padres scoreless for the second straight day with a 2-0 win Sunday.

"For it to play out like it has in the last few games it's been nice but we're not delusional," Dickey said. "We know there's a lot of baseball to be played."

Dickey (7-1) struck out 11 Pirates on Tuesday. He is the first Mets pitcher to have back-to-back games with at least 10 Ks since Pedro Martinez did it in May 2006.

Santana pitched a four-hitter Saturday. He and Dickey combined in August 2010 for New York's last set of complete-game shutouts. Dickey needed a bit of help to finish this one.

Tim Byrdak got two outs to finish the eighth and Frank Francisco pitched the ninth for his 13th save in 15 chances. The Mets shut out the Nationals last season on May 18 and 19, both joint efforts.

"It's nice to be able to celebrate some good outings in a row and, hopefully, the next guy out feels an obligation to keep it where it's at right now," Dickey said. "I certainly did after Johan passed the gauntlet."

Daniel Murphy had an RBI single and Mike Baxter scored on a passed ball as the Mets took advantage of a wild Edinson Volquez (2-5).

New York won three of four over San Diego to move six games over .500 for the first time since July 18, 2010. On Monday, the Mets start a run of eight straight series against teams who had winning records entering Sunday.

"When you play these teams you raise your level," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We got to pick our game up. There's no doubt about it. But if we continue to pitch, we'll be in some games."

The Padres won the opener of the series, scoring a season-high 11 runs. But in the final three they had only one run -- going scoreless for 26 straight innings -- and 11 hits. With 13 players on the disabled list and outfielder Cameron Maybin sidelined since Saturday with a sore wrist, San Diego has lost six of seven on its 10-game road trip.

The Padres might be getting some help Monday in Chicago. Padres manager Bud Black said before the game that slugger Carlos Quentin could join the team for a series that begins Monday. Afterward, he said there will likely be a roster move Monday. Quentin has been out all season after having knee surgery in mid-March.

The Mets brought back Banner Day for the first time since 1996 as part of their season-long 50th anniversary celebration. Several signs asked for Dickey to throw the Mets' first no-hitter. Yonder Alonso dashed those hopes with two outs in the first, but, boy, Dickey was good.

The quirky right-hander walked to the mound to Darth Vader's theme, "The Imperial March," before the first pitch and then was ruthless with his knuckleball. He struck out the first two Padres -- Everth Cabrera was not able to hold onto his bat as he flailed at strike three. Cabrera didn't even bother swinging at the third strike his second time up.

The Padres got a hit in each of the first two innings then went hitless until Jesus Guzman doubled with one out in the seventh -- their second extra-base hit after Thursday's win. Guzman then got thrown out trying to steal third base.

"It's tougher if he's on, we were making him earn it, pumping strikes with the knuckleball," Black said.

Dickey gave up three hits, walked one and hit a batter in 7 1/3 innings.

"The knuckleball is a funny thing. It's very enigmatic," Dickey said. "Overall, I felt pretty good with where it's at."

Dickey credits catcher Mike Nickeas with giving him the confidence to try different things with his fluttery pitch that he can throw from 60 to 80 mph.

Nickeas thinks Dickey is striking out more batters because he has better control of the high knuckleballs.

Taking advantage of Volquez's wildness in the first, the Mets added to their major league-leading total of runs scored with two outs. After retiring the first two batters, Volquez walked David Wright. Wright stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch on ball four to Lucas Duda. Murphy then lined a single to right-center for the lead.

Volquez needed 75 pitches to get through the first three innings but New York had little success against him.

"I was a little bit all over in the first inning," Volquez said. "Then I fixed my mechanics and came back and pitched better."

Turner singled with two outs in the fifth, ending Volquez's day after 109 pitches. The 28-year-old right-hander allowed five hits and two runs. He struck out five and walked three.

Game notes
About a dozen members of the Ivy League champion Cornell baseball team visited with Black before the game. Padres hitting coach Phil Plantier's son Ryan is on the team. ... Mets C Josh Thole (concussion) is scheduled to play in an extended spring game on Monday. ... Collins turned 63. The clubhouse was kept closed for a few extra minutes after the game so the team could give him a cake.

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