WASHINGTON -- R.A. Dickey has had a memorable season, including consecutive one-hitters and an All-Star team selection.
On Thursday, Dickey broke a streak of rare ineffectiveness this season.
After throwing consecutive one-hitters last month, Dickey had won just one of four starts -- getting no-decisions in three of them. In his past two, he gave up five runs in each game.
Dickey (13-1) pitched 7 1/3 innings. He gave up four runs -- three earned -- and 10 hits. He walked one and struck out five.
"I haven't pitched as well as I have in that streak. That's hard to expect," Dickey said.
"You have to have a lot of cooperation. Recently, I've just been so-so. Hopefully, I get a second wind here."
The Mets staked him to a 9-1 lead on a hot, humid day.
Dickey said it wasn't really that hot. He compared it with a day when the temperature reached 115 degrees in Zulia, Venezuela, in winter ball.
"I threw a three-hit shutout. I just tried to remember that. I've done this before," Dickey said.
He tried not to put too much pressure on himself to break the streak.
"I don't think anybody has panicked. As far as this being a 'must-win,' if you do that, you're just going to run out of gas quickly," Dickey said.
"If you play that game, you'll drain yourself mentally before it's even the end of August."
The Nationals lead Atlanta, which won Thursday afternoon, by 3½ games in the NL East. The Mets are seven back.
"From here on out, a win is obviously a big win. We've dug ourselves a big hole, but the funny thing is we've haven't played terribly," Wright said.
"I think we've given an inning away here and there on this road trip, and that's come back to cost us, but it seemed like every game we had a chance to win."
New York manager Terry Collins called a team meeting before Wednesday's game, and he was hopeful that Dickey could put a stop to the slide.
"If you're getting past four games, that means they're beating your aces," Collins said.
"We needed one of them to stand up."
Wright hit a two-run shot in the first -- his 13th off Gio Gonzalez (12-5), who was rocked for six runs in 3 1/3 innings in his shortest start of the season.
Wright's second home run, his 14th, a three-run blast, came in the fourth off Craig Stammen. He also homered in his last at-bat in Wednesday night's game.
"Nobody matches up that good against David Wright right now," Washington manager Davey Johnson said.
Gonzalez allowed six runs and six hits in his second attempt to win his 13th.
"A good team like that, the way they swing the bat, if you leave anything up there, they're gonna make you pay for it. I learned firsthand about that," Gonzalez said.
The Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman hit a first-inning home run, his 11th, and by the time Washington scored again, the Mets had an eight-run lead.
Michael Morse had two RBIs for the Nationals.
Washington activated RHP Drew Storen from the disabled list. He hadn't pitched this season due to April surgery to remove
bone chips from his right elbow. Storen pitched a scoreless ninth. He was greeted warmly by the crowd. "It was pretty emotional for me to get a great ovation from the fans. It made the three or four months I was out seem a little bit shorter," Storen said. ... OF
Rick Ankiel was designated for assignment. C Jhonatan Solano was placed on the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle and C Sandy Leon was recalled from Double-A Harrisburg. Leon had his first major league hit in the seventh. ... The Nationals are temporarily carrying 13 pitchers and just four extra position players. ... Johnson said that LHP John Lannan would be recalled to pitch the second game of Saturday's doubleheader against Atlanta. ... Dickey committed a throwing error in the fifth. New York had gone 11 games without an error. ... Mets OF Mike Baxter, who's on the 15-day DL with injuries to his collarbone and ribs, is playing at St. Lucie, but hasn't played in the field yet. Collins says Baxter isn't yet close to returning. ... New York plays Los Angeles on Friday. LHP Johan Santana (6-6, 3.59) faces RHP Aaron Harang.
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