(Sports Network) - Hitting the road to face a pair of last-place teams has helped the Mets find their road game. They also may have found a hidden gem in knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
Dickey will go for his fifth winning start in a row this evening and New York shoots for a seventh consecutive victory in the finale of a three-game series versus the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.
The Mets were just 8-18 on the road before kicking off their current nine-game road trip with a three-game sweep of the Orioles, who currently hold the worst record in baseball. Still, New York was able to take advantage of the schedule and has done so through the first two games of this series against the American League Central's last-place club, Cleveland.
Following this finale, the Mets return to New York to face the hosting Yankees, who are currently tied with the Rays for the best record in baseball.
New York has scored 26 runs over its last three games and pounded out 14 hits -- seven of those doubles -- in last night's 8-4 win. Angel Pagan had three hits and drove in three runs, and Ike Davis had a pair of doubles, an RBI and a run scored for the Mets, who have also won 10 of their last 11 overall and now trail the first-placeBraves by a half-game in the NL East.
David Wright added to his NL-leading RBI total with a pair in last night's victory. Wright has driven in a run in six straight games, posting 13 in that span to give him 52 on the season.
Jon Niese followed up his first career shutout with seven innings of three-run ball as New York improved to 7-1 in interleague play this season.
"He kept us in the game," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said of Niese. "He struggled with the mound. He really struggled with trying to find a landing spot. That was more of his issue than anything else."
Manuel might opt to sit Jason Bay tonight after his outfielder suffered a left quad contusion on a collision at first base in the second inning. Bay remained in the game after the incident, but exited four innings later.
New York should be able to get by without Bay given how Dickey has performed since joining the Mets' rotation. Dickey has won four straight starts since getting a no-decision in his New York debut on May 19 and is pitching to a 2.78 earned run average on the season.
The right-hander picked up his latest win on Friday versus the Orioles, who he held to just a run on seven hits over seven innings to match his longest start of the season.
"Even though [Dickey] got in trouble, there was no panic," said Manuel. "He was able to keep throwing [the knuckleball] and able to keep getting big outs. He's been impressive."
The 35-year-old has faced the Indians eight times, twice as a starter, and is 1-0 against them with a 3.70 ERA.
Cleveland will hope to get to Dickey tonight in the hopes of halting a three- game losing streak that comes on the heels of four wins in a row. The Indians are 4-5 on a 10-game homestand.
Shelley Duncan hit his second two-run homer in as many games last night for the Indians and Mitch Talbotgave up a career-worst eight runs on 13 hits in 5 2/3 innings to take the loss.
"I felt like I located pretty well," Talbot said. "Obviously, a couple weren't located, but I felt pretty good overall."
Cleveland's Jake Westbrook will try to notch his fifth victory in six decisions tonight in his first-ever meeting with the Mets after besting the Nationals on Friday with 7 1/3 innings of two-run, seven-hit ball.
A 15-game winner in 2005 and '06, Westbrook is 4-3 with a 4.62 ERA this season and has lasted at least seven innings in three of his last four starts.
"The consistency is there now," manager Manny Acta told Cleveland's website. "Every five days, we feel like we can count on him."
The 32-year-old righty, a 1996 first-round pick, is 6-6 with a 3.21 ERA in 25 interleague outings, 15 of those starts.
The Mets and Indians are wrapping just their third interleague set against each other and New York now leads the series, 6-2. New York has never swept Cleveland, which is hosting the Mets for the first time since 2002.