R.A. Dickey became the first knuckleballer to win 20 games in more than three decades, tying his career high with 13 strikeouts and leading the Mets over the Pittsburgh Pirates, 6-5, Thursday in New York.
The 37-year-old Dickey (20-6), who hadn’t won more than 11 games in any previous season, allowed three runs and eight hits in 7⅔ innings, walking two and reaching double digits in strikeouts for the seventh time this season. He leads the NL with 222 Ks.
He is the first 20-game winner for the pitching-proud Mets since Frank Viola in 1990 and the first knuckleballer to accomplish the feat since Houston’s Joe Niekro in 1980, according to STATS LLC.
The Mets fell behind, 2-0, and 3-1. Dickey’s former Texas teammate, Rod Barajas, doubled in a run and homered, but the Mets clawed back in their final home game of the season and took a 6-3 lead on David Wright’s three-run homer in the fifth and held on in a nervous ninth.
Jon Rauch followed Dickey and allowed Alex Presley’s two-run homer in the ninth. Bobby Parnell retired Josh Harrison on a ground out and Jose Tabata on a fly out for his fifth save.
‘‘It’s like a big exhale,’’ Dickey said.
Quite a turnaround from 2010, when Dickey began the season at Triple A Buffalo and had to prove he belonged in the majors.
‘‘This was about R.A. today,’’ Mets manager Terry Collins said. ‘‘It was about him. It was about his connection with the fans, the connection with the city. And so I said use that.’’
Pittsburgh, which led the NL Central at the All-Star break, lost for the 20th time in 26 games and dropped to 76-80.
‘‘I think everybody here today would have taken one swing where they thought they were going to crush one and they swung right through it,’’ Pirates outfielder Travis Snider said.
The Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen left the game in the seventh inning with discomfort in his left knee after attempting to make a diving catch.
McCutchen was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, dropping his average to .332, just behind San Francisco’s Buster Posey (.333) for the NL lead.
Kevin Correia (11-11) gave up six runs and seven hits. Given a 3-1 lead, he allowed Scott Hairston’s RBI single in the fourth and Daniel Murphy’s tying single in the fifth before Wright hit an opposite-field drive to right.
Tigers 5, Royals 4— Doug Fister set an AL record by striking out nine straight batters and Alex Avila drove in the winning run in the ninth with a bases-loaded grounder in Detroit’s final home game of the regular season.
Rays 3, White Sox 2 — Evan Longoria hit a tiebreaking homer in the ninth to lift visiting Tampa Bay to its eighth straight win. The Rays are two games back in the race for the second AL wild card.
Chicago fell two games behind Detroit in the AL Central after its eighth loss in nine games.
Blue Jays 6, Yankees 0 — Brandon Morrow and two relievers combined on a five-hitter and Edwin Encarnacion had three hits and three RBIs for host Toronto.
Rangers 9, Athletics 7 — Ian Kinsler hit his major-league leading seventh leadoff homer, Matt Harrison earned his 18th victory, and AL West-leading Texas earned a four-game split with visiting Oakland.
Nationals 7, Phillies 3 — Gio Gonzalez became the first 21-game winner in the majors and Michael Morse hit two homers for host Washington.
Braves 6, Marlins 2 — Tommy Hanson earned his first win since July and Dan Uggla and Andrelton Simmons had RBI doubles for host Atlanta.
Mariners 9, Angels 4 — John Jaso hit a two-run homer and an RBI double as visiting Seattle avoided a series sweep. Los Angeles, which had won five straight, wasted a golden chance to get within one game of an AL wild-card spot.
Reds 2, Brewers 1 — Todd Frazier hit a tying, two-out homer in the ninth inning, and Dioner Navarro followed with an RBI triple as host Cincinnati dealt a major setback to Milwaukee’s playoff chances.
Giants 7, Diamondbacks 3 — Midseason acquisitions Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro each hit two-run homers for host San Francisco and Barry Zito (14-8) won his fourth straight start for the NL West champs.
Rockies 7, Cubs 5 — Jordan Pacheco and DJ LeMahieu each homered as Colorado finished a sweep of visiting Chicago. The Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo hit his 15th home run of the season.
Dodgers 8, Padres 4 — Luis Cruz hit a two-run single to highlight a four-run fifth as Los Angeles won in San Diego.