R.A. Dickey rearranged his schedule so he could try for his 20th win at Citi Field, where he hoped to share the experience with fans. The knuckleballer did not disappoint.

Before a crowd of 31,506 on Thursday, Dickey tied a career high with 13 strikeouts to beat the Pirates, 6-5. He became the first Mets 20-game winner since Frank Viola in 1990.


It did not come easy.

Upon leaving the game with two outs in the eighth, Dickey raised his cap to the crowd, which spent the afternoon hanging on every pitch.

The crowd  booed in the ninth when with one out, reliever Jon Rauch allowed a two-run homer to Alex Presley, cutting the Mets lead to one.

But Bobby Parnell got the last two outs to nail down Dickey’s milestone win.

Dickey left with the lead thanks to David Wright, who earned a curtain call by hammering a three-run homer in the fifth inning to break a 3-3 tie. Dickey took care of the rest, allowing just two runs in 7 2/3 innings.

Dickey’s 13 strikeouts were his most since June 18, when he threw the second of back-to-back one-hitters. The victory only added to his already impressive Cy Young Award candidacy. He would be the first Met to win the award since Doc Gooden in 1985.

The Pirates put Dickey in a 2-0 hole in the second inning behind run-scoring hits by Rod Barajas and Jordy Mercer. But with one swing, Ike Davis cut the lead in half, drilling his 31st homer of the season.

Two batters later, Mike Baxter nearly followed with the equalizer, sending what appeared to be a solo homer toward the right-field fence. But Pirates right fielder Travis Snider made perhaps the best catch of the season, scaling the fence to pull down Baxter’s drive.

In the fourth, Barajas got to Dickey again, this time by pulling a long solo homer in to the left field seats that made it 3-1 Pirates.

But the Mets rallied once more. Scott Hairston got the run back in the fourth with his run-scoring single, but the Mets saved their best for the four-run fifth inning.

After Daniel Murphy lined a run-scoring single to tie the game, Wright delivered a three-run blast, sending the crowd into a frenzy. The homer put Dickey in the driver’s seat with a 6-3 lead and his fate in his own hands.

He had already thrown 111 pitches, but when it came time to hit in the seventh, Dickey grabbed a bat. His single on a swinging bunt inspired another round of chants from the fans, who would send Dickey off with another rousing ovation in the eighth.