San Diego was limited to four hits by the knuckleballer, but Carlos Quentin scored the go-ahead run when he jarred the ball loose in a home-plate collision with catcher Josh Thole in the Padres' 3-1 win over the Mets on Friday night.
The Padres managed just one hit against Dickey (14-3) through the first six innings but still escaped with a win.
"Early on, he had total control of the knuckleball," said Yonder Alonso, whose double helped Quentin score the go-ahead run. "I felt like he was throwing it for strikes when he wanted to, making guys chasing it. That was tough."
But Clayton Richard (8-11) held the Mets to one run and eight hits over seven-plus innings. The lefty also induced three double plays.
Huston Street got the final four outs for his 18th save in 18 chances.
When San Diego scored a run without a hit in the sixth to tie the game at 1, it set the stage for a two-run seventh.
Quentin reached on a one-out single in the seventh, and Dickey left a knuckleball up and over the plate to Alonso.
"I swung at it as soft as I could," Alonso said. "I just wanted to make contact, and I was able to find the gap."
Alonso sent a shot into right-center field, and right fielder Scott Hairston slid while trying to make the catch, but the ball bounced past him. Center fielder Andres Torres picked it up and threw it to second baseman Ronny Cedeno.
Cedeno's throw to Thole arrived well before Quentin, but the 6-foot-2, 235-pound outfielder lowered his left shoulder and barreled into Thole, knocking the ball free and giving the Padres a 2-1 lead. John Baker followed with an RBI single to stretch it to a two-run edge.
"Carlos went in there with intent to score," Padres manager Bud Black said.
Thole had the ball in his glove, but just didn't get it covered with his right hand.
"It's frustrating because the play at the plate was the ball game," Thole said. "It changed the whole dynamic of the game. I just didn't get my free hand on the ball. I was reaching for it. As I was getting to it, I got hit."
The Padres denied Dickey the chance for his 15th victory, which would have led the majors.
"It stings a little bit because we should have won this game," Dickey said. "That's a game everybody in here thought we should have won."
Dickey, who allowed three runs -- two earned -- walked three and struck out nine to take over the major league lead from Washington's Stephen Strasburg with 158.
"I thought he was fine," Mets manager Terry Collins said of Dickey. "I thought he pitched a great game. We asked him to go a little bit farther than we usually do, but they weren't exactly hitting the ball hard."
New York, which had won four of five, is 5-4 on its season-high, 11-game West Coast trip.
David Wright led off the Mets' fourth with a walk, went to second on Hairston's single and advanced to third on a fly out.
Cedeno followed with a high bouncer that Logan Forsythe fielded on the run behind second base. Forsythe tried to throw to shortstop Everth Cabrera for a force out on Hairston, but the throw went over Cabrera's head, allowing Wright to score.
San Diego tied it 1-1 when Cabrera led off the sixth with a walk, was sacrificed to second, stole third and scored on Chris Denorfia's sacrifice fly.
Dickey is tied with four other pitchers with a major league-best 14 wins.
Dickey lost on the road for the first time since April 18 at Atlanta. The righty is 8-2 in 11 road starts. ... New York activated right-handed closer Frank Francisco (left oblique strain) from the disabled list. The Mets placed LHP Tim Byrdak on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Aug. 2. ... Collins said RHP Johan Santana (right ankle sprain) is expected to make a minor league rehab start for Single-A Brooklyn on Sunday or Monday. ... Since May 21, the Padres have played 23 games at Petco Park and 42 on the road. ... The Padres designated starting RHP Kip Wells for assignment. ... Mets RHP Jeremy Hafner (1-4, 5.52 ERA) will face Padres RHP Edison Volquez (7-7, 3.51) on Saturday night.
MLB free-agent qualifying offer value drops by $500,000 to $18.4 million
The price of a qualifying offer to Major League Baseball free agents dropped by $500,000 to $18.4 million, a sign of the slide in salaries.
MLB playoffs 2021: Best plays and moments from Atlanta Braves-Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros-Boston Red Sox
The reigning champion Dodgers are in a hole against the Braves but have Walker Buehler on the mound. The Red Sox are mashing against the Astros, but how long can Boston keep it up?
New York Yankees shift attention to filling void at shortstop
With shortstops Carlos Correa and Corey Seager poised to headline a strong free agent class, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said the position is "an area of need" as the team looks to replace Gleyber Torres, who was moved to second base.
Aaron Boone to return as manager of New York Yankees
Aaron Boone, whose job security came into question after the Yankees finished third in the AL East and then lost to the Red Sox in the AL Wild Card Game, will return with a new three-year deal, plus a club option for 2025.
MLB playoffs 2021: Atlanta Braves slugger Austin Riley never stops adjusting
As his high school coach knows well, Braves star Austin Riley's breakout season comes on the back of a lifetime of adjusting his game to keep improving.
MLB playoffs 2021: Can the Los Angeles Dodgers come back from an 0-2 NLCS hole?
Will L.A.'s star power shine through at home, or is this series already Atlanta's to lose? Our experts weigh in ahead of Game 3.