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BAL@NYM: Dickey throws his second straight one-hitter

Perhaps the game's most fascinating pitcher, Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey is riding an individual streak unlike anyone else in the Majors. For Sunday's 8 p.m. ET rubber match against the Yankees at Citi Field, he has New York-wide pride resting on his shoulders, too.

A win, and the Mets and Yankees split their home-and-home clash in the 2012 Subway Series. A loss, and the Yankees will finish the year 5-1 against the Mets -- barring any October meetings.

Dickey, 11-1 with a 2.00 ERA, is the first Major Leaguer to throw five straight games with no earned runs and at least five strikeouts in each, and he's the third since 1945 to throw back-to-back one-hitters. Dickey didn't enter the season as the Mets' ace, but he's in Johan Santana's company now.

The Yankees, meanwhile, will counter with their undisputed staff leader on the mound, lefty CC Sabathia, in a matchup fully worthy of Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN.

"For me, it's another game on the schedule," Dickey said. "I think that helps me put it in perspective. It's one of three games that we have to play in this series against a good team. I think it's been built up to some kind of crescendo, but I will attack it no differently."

Mets manager Terry Collins thinks folks outside of New York will enjoy taking a gander at what Dickey brings.

"We're very lucky as an organization to be on TV like we are, but if you haven't seen this guy, you should tune in," Collins said. "A lot of people haven't seen R.A. Dickey do what he's doing right now. I just hope tomorrow night he's as effective as he has been, because it'll be fun to watch for the person that's heard about him but never seen him pitch."

Sabathia, 9-3 with a 3.55 ERA, has taken notice of Dickey's performance, although he had no Frank Francisco-esque barbs to deliver.

"It's kind of hard not to," said Sabathia, who's been a winner in four of his last five starts. "If you turn on the TV or turn on SportsCenter, he's been having a great year. Hopefully, he stays healthy, I'm excited for him, but I'm going to be trying to win the game tomorrow."

Sabathia said he hasn't made any attempt to prepare for hitting the knuckler outside of his regular batting-practice routine for Interleague Play. He said he's never faced one before.

Sabathia does, however, have some Wiffle Ball experience.

"I'm sure his knuckleball is a little better than my cousin's Wiffle Ball in the backyard," Sabathia said. "We'll see."

Yankees: Lineup won't see overhaul
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said on Saturday that he wouldn't adjust his lineup to better challenge Dickey's floater on Sunday.

"You can't worry about that; you have to play the game," Girardi said. "I don't think you really alter your lineup. If you see someone who has had a lot of success, you might put him in there thinking that they've been successful against knuckleballers."

Left-handed-hitting veteran Raul Ibanez likely will start in left field. Ibanez is 8-for-25 with three homers and six RBIs in his career against Dickey.

Russell Martin, who hasn't caught Sabathia since April 11, is expected to sit out due to back stiffness, leaving starting duties to Chris Stewart.

Mets: Davis leaves with food poisoning
• Mets first baseman Ike Davis was a late scratch on Saturday because of food poisoning, which could keep him out of the lineup on Sunday. It doesn't help his chances of playing that the Yankees have a tough lefty in Sabathia on the mound.

• In his first appearance at Citi Field since his June 15 concussion, outfielder Jason Bay said he's feeling "astronomically better."

"The fact that his head feels better, that the headaches and the dizziness is going away, those are great signs," Collins said after a long chat with Bay. "I know our medical team will take this slow and hopefully get him back as soon as we possibly can."

Worth noting
The Mets are 8-6 against American League clubs this season, making them .500 or better in 11 of the 16 seasons of Interleague Play.

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