(Sports Network) - After a rough start to the season, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey is flashing the form that earned him the first multi-year contract of his career last offseason.
Dickey hopes to win a fourth straight start this evening as the New York Mets open a four-game series with the visiting Washington Nationals one night after an emotional and lengthy evening at Citi Field.
The 36-year-old Dickey is riding a career-high string of nine straight quality starts and his current winning streak has seen him sandwich a pair of wins over the Marlins around a 7-3 triumph in Washington on Sept. 2.
The righty held the Nationals to three runs over six innings on that day, then limited the Marlins to four hits over seven scoreless innings five days later. Dickey upped his record to 8-11 on the season with a 3.47 earned run average.
"His job is to keep us in the game and do the best he can to give our team a chance to win and he's done that all year," said Mets manager Terry Collins.
Dickey, who is 2-3 with a 4.18 ERA lifetime versus the Nats, takes the hill one night after the Mets held a remembrance ceremony for those lost in the terror attacks on September 11, 2001. Members of the New York City Police Department, New York City Fire Department, and many other first responders participated in the event, during which a 300-foot by 100-foot American flag was unfurled.
That led into the rubber match of a three-game set with the Cubs, but the Mets would strand 15 runners on base, including three apiece in the ninth and 10th innings, in a 10-6 loss in 11 innings.
"That's baseball," Mets outfielder Jason Bay said. "But it was a little bit different today."
Jason Pridie sparked a little hope for a magical comeback with a two-run homer in the bottom of the 11th, but the Mets lost for the fourth time in five games.
The Nationals come to Citi Field after posting an 8-2 victory over the Astros on Sunday. Ian Desmond, Rick Ankiel and Ryan Zimmerman hit consecutive homers to begin the third inning, which seemed like plenty of offense to get Stephen Strasburg a win.
However, Strasburg was lifted after just three innings of one-run ball.
"We had a 70-pitch limit on him, no matter how good he looked," said Washington manager Davey Johnson about Strasburg. "We want him to get some time here and be ready to go next season."
The Nationals had lost three of four and hope that Ross Detwiler can avoid getting lit up by the Mets for a second straight outing.
The left-hander was drilled for six runs on seven hits in a loss to the Mets on Sept. 2, giving up homers to David Wright and Nick Evans. It was his second straight loss and fifth in six starts as Detwiler fell to 1-1 with a 5.11 ERA in four games (two starts) lifetime versus New York.
"It was definitely my worst outing," Detwiler said. "Nothing worked. Bad location, bad pitches, everything."
Detwiler's next scheduled outing, the second game of a doubleheader versus the Dodgers on Thursday, was rained out, so the 25-year-old has had plenty of time to get ready for this game.
In 12 contests this season, including seven starts, Detwiler is 2-5 with a 3.83 ERA.
New York has won eight of 14 over Washington this season.