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Dickey shuts out Nats over 7 1/3 innings

It's a matchup of historic proportions. For only the second time since Interleague Play began in 1997, the American League leader in wins will oppose the National League leader when David Price and R.A. Dickey face off at Tropicana Field on Wednesday night.

As if that wasn't intrigue enough, the showdown of Tennessee natives has a unique off-field plot, as well: Dickey, who played his college ball at the University of Tennessee, and Price, who played his at Vanderbilt, are both Nashville natives who share an agent and friendship.

"R.A.'s my buddy," Price said. "I'm happy I don't have to face him, because I don't think I'd have a very good chance, even though I know it's one pitch and one pitch only."

That pitch, Dickey's signature knuckleball, has propelled him to 28 wins over his past three years with the Mets. Price, in his fifth season with the Rays, is looking to notch career win No. 50.

And though the soft-throwing righty Dickey and the electrifying lefty Price have entirely different styles on the mound, both have turned in impressive 2012 campaigns that have each positioned as the cream of their league's pitching crop. The Tennessee tandem are two of just four pitchers in the Majors with at least eight wins and an ERA under 2.50.

Dickey is 9-1 with a 2.44 ERA in 12 starts this season, and he has not allowed a run in his last 24 2/3 innings. He comes in 4-0 with a stingy 0.29 ERA and 38 strikeouts in his last four starts.

Price counters Dickey's recent success with an equally impressive home resume. He has been nearly unhittable at Tropicana Field, posting a 4-1 record and pitching to a 0.96 ERA -- the second-lowest home mark in the Majors after Jered Weaver's 0.83. In Price's last outing, he lasted just five innings against the Yankees, though he conceded just one run.

"I thought I threw 12 [innings]. That's what the Yankees do," Price said. "I feel like they're one of the best teams in baseball at working that starting pitcher, getting them out of the game as soon as possible."

As division rivals, the Yankees also have more experience against Price than the Mets will bring to the plate. That lack of familiarity, says Price, should give he and his friend across the way an added edge over opposing hitters Wednesday -- as if they needed one.

"I feel like when a hitter hasn't seen a pitcher, the pitcher has to have the upper hand," Price said. "We faced [Tim] Wakefield quite a few times since I've been here. It's a different knuckleball, but it still kind of has some of the same action. Hopefully, we can get it going and scratch some runs early."

Mets: Taking advantage of the two-out rally
• The Mets may want to start pretending they have two outs all the time. New York has the thirteenth-most productive offense in the Majors, having tallied 273 runs so far this year, but 134 of them have come with two outs.

The Mets added nine to that league-leading two-out total in Tuesday's 11-2 rout of the Rays, thanks in large part to Ike Davis and Jordany Valdespin, who combined to drive in six runs with two outs. Lucas Duda, who also added a two-out RBI Tuesday, is the team's leading producer in those situations, having driven in 19 runs with two men down.

• Jason Bay has struggled since his return from the disabled list on June 6. Bay, who was sidelined in April by a fractured left rib, has not recorded a hit in four games since returning to action.

The veteran outfielder was 0-for-5 Tuesday against the Rays, and was 0-for-11 as the Mets were swept by the Yankees over the weekend. Bay wasn't exactly red hot before his injury either -- prior to his stint on the DL, Bay hit .240 with 17 strikeouts in 50 April at-bats.

Rays: Rodney making history, too
With 18 saves and an ERA of just 0.94, Fernando Rodney is one of just six pitchers in Major League history to record at least 18 saves and have a ERA below 1.00 by June 12.

Rodney, who has not given up a run in 26 of his 30 outings this year, is in elite company. Among the other pitchers to achieve the success Rodney has at this point in the season are the likes of Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz.

Worth noting
• Price will be facing the Mets for the first time in his career.

• The Mets have hit a double in a franchise-record 34 straight games dating back to May 7. Comments