PHOENIX -- Thanks to a dancing pitch teasing batters with its slow speed and eventual harsh break, the D-backs' typical aggression at the plate turned into frustration Sunday.Fluttering in at speeds between the high 60s and low 80s, R.A. Dickey's knuckleball took the life out of Arizona's bats, as the All-Star tossed seven stellar innings without allowing an earned run to defeat the D-backs for the second time this season, 5-1, at Chase Field. "He was good. He's 14-2, it's not by mistake," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He totally shut us down. We had minimal opportunities. His ball moves around a lot and he mixes it up good. He did a great job. He throws so many strikes, then you have to swing and it's out of the zone." Dickey -- who also took down Arizona on May 6, lasting eight innings and giving up one run -- finished his afternoon with eight strikeouts, surrendering just four hits while the only run he allowed came after an error on shortstop Ruben Tejada. Dickey served up at least eight hits in each of his previous four starts coming into the finale. "He threw very well, and that's the R.A. Dickey that we saw in the first half," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "All he does is go out and battle, which is what I wanted to see. He got us where we needed to be, deep in the game, and fortunately we scored some runs and gave him the lead." Paul Goldschmidt had the most success against the 37-year-old Dickey, collecting two hits and driving in the club's only run. "When he throws his good knuckleballs, I don't think you have a chance," Goldschmidt said. "You just have to hope it doesn't break like it does sometimes and find a hole." With the loss, the D-backs finished their homestand with a 7-3 mark and moved to 1-36 when scoring two runs or fewer. The club will now leave town to go on a 10-game road trip sporting a .500 record. "We had a good stretch here. We'd like to duplicate it," Gibson said. "It's going to be very challenging. Hopefully we play the way we've had. It's discouraging when you lose, but you keep pushing and prepare." D-backs starter Joe Saunders pitched decently, but the Mets tallied four runs on eight hits off him over seven innings, and he took his seventh loss of the year as his streak of six straight quality starts came to an end. Two of the runs that scored reached base via a walk. "The walks hurt, that hurt me," Saunders said. "But you have to tip your cap to Dickey. He baffled us all day. We couldn't balls in play. You have to respect a guy who comes back, develops a knuckleball and has success." The Mets jumped ahead, 2-0, in the first inning courtesy of back-to-back RBI doubles from David Wright and Scott Hairston. An inning later, the D-backs worked the bases loaded with two outs, but Dickey induced Saunders to pop out to Tejada to keep Arizona scoreless. While the D-backs' offense continuously struggled to square up the knuckleball, the Mets tacked on insurance runs in the fifth, sixth and eighth innings with RBI base hits from Hairston, Daniel Murphy and Josh Thole. "He pitched all right," Gibson said of Saunders. "When he got behind in the count, that's when they hurt him. But it didn't matter, Dickey shut us down." In the bottom of the sixth, Goldschmidt put the D-backs on the board with a two-out RBI single off Dickey after Aaron Hill singled and moved to second on a throwing error and third on a passed ball. "I tried to get pitches that looked like they were going to be in the zone," Goldschmidt said. "But sometimes you swing and the ball ends up some place else."
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.