NEW YORK (AP) - When last on the mound at Citi Field, R.A. Dickey beat Pittsburgh in September 2012 to become the first knuckleballer in 32 years with a 20-win season.
Traded from the Mets to Toronto less than three months later after winning the NL Cy Young Award, Dickey had not pitched in the ballpark again until Thursday when he was slated to face Noah Syndgergaard, one of the players New York acquired from the Blue Jays in the deal.
Syndergaard was scratched because of biceps and shoulder discomfort, and Dickey wound up outpitching Matt Harvey.
“It was pretty anti-climactic considering there was no Syndergaard,” Dickey said after the Atlanta Braves’ 7-5 victory. “None of the story lines that you guys hope for. It was pretty innocuous.”
Dickey (2-2) allowed three runs - two earned - and five hits in five innings, leaving because of a spasm in his left quadriceps. He hurt the leg when he hit into a forceout at the plate in the fourth and ran down the first-base line hard to avoid an inning-ending double play.
“It’s no more than I’ve managed before in my career. It’s just unfortunate because I felt I had a pretty good knuckleball,” Dickey said.
He pitched from the stretch in the fifth, even with no one on base, and allowed a leadoff home run to Jose Reyes.
“I think he’ll be OK. He doesn’t foresee missing his next start,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
Atlanta, which won its second straight after a six-game skid, took a 2-0 lead in the second when Matt Harvey (2-1) walked three in an inning for the first time in his big league career. Jace Peterson singled in a run and Dickey hit a run-scoring grounder - his fourth RBI this season, one more than Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson.
After Dickey got hurt, New York tied the score in the fourth on Neil Walker’s RBI double and Kurt Suzuki’s run-scoring passed ball. An inning earlier, Dickey’s knuckler knocked off Suzuki’s oversized catcher’s mitt on a pitch to Reyes that tailed outside.
Atlanta needed just two pitches to take a 3-2 lead in the fifth. Adonis Garcia singled leading off and scored on Freddie Freeman’s double. Harvey intentionally walked Nick Markakis to pitch to Suzuki, who hit a three-run homer.
“This win was really fun for me, in particular, because it was such a community win,” said the 42-year-old Dickey, in his first season with the Braves after signing an $8 million, one-year deal.
Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte threw out Jay Bruce at the plate trying to score from second on Neil Walker’s second-inning single. Another great throw by Inciarte nearly caught Curtis Granderson at the plate for the final out in the ninth - plate umpire Jeff Nelson called Granderson safe on Reyes’ single, but there was two minutes of suspense until a video review determined the call stood.
“The situation just comes up in this ballpark where they keep hitting the ball to center,” Inciarte said. “Good for me.”
From his vantage point, Inciarte has a great view of Dickey’s hard knuckler, usually in the mid-70 mph range.
“In spring training, I told Dickey, ‘Let me see one of your knuckleballs. I want to see if I can catch it,’” Inciarte explained. “He almost hit me in the face. That’s how difficult it is to catch that ball.”
RHP Jason Motte was brought up from Triple-A by Atlanta and C Anthony Recker was optioned to Gwinnett. Braves INF-OF Chase d’Arnaud, designated for assignment this week, was claimed by Boston.
Lane Adams pinch hit in the Atlanta eighth and struck out, his first big league at-bat since September 2014 for Kansas City.
Braves: 2B Brandon Phillips, who injured his left groin Wednesday, did not play. “I’m not going on the DL, that’s not going to happen,” he said. I’m going to be like a Chipotle burrito. I’m wrapping that thing up.” Snitker said he hoped to have Phillips back in the lineup Friday.
Braves: RHP Bartolo Colon (1-2) starts Friday at Milwaukee.
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