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WSH@NYM: Dickey strikes out Harper three times

Not only will R.A. Dickey try to bounce back from just his second loss of the season on Sunday, but the Mets' knuckleballer will also look to act as the stopper during his club's second-half struggles.

The Mets' 6-3 loss to the D-backs on Saturday night marked their 13th loss in 15 games since the All-Star Break. Each of their three runs against Ian Kennedy came on solo homers from first baseman Ike Davis, as Arizona improved to 51-50 on the season.

New York hopes Dickey (13-2, 2.97) pitches more effectively than he did on Tuesday against the Nationals. In that game, which resulted in Dickey's first loss since his third outing of the year on April 18, Dickey allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits over six innings.

"It's tough when things are going on what seems to be a downward spiral," Dickey said after that start. "In order to change it, we have to stand up and own what's ours to own. I could have pitched better. Two strikes, an 0-2 count with two outs in the sixth inning, and five straight hits. Four runs later, we're in a hole that we can't get out of. I've got to make a pitch. Somewhere during that sequence, I've got to make a pitch."

Taking the mound for Arizona will be southpaw Joe Saunders (5-6, 3.51), who has put together three consecutive quality starts since coming off the disabled list on July 14.

"I like what I've seen so far in his first three starts," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said after Saunders' last outing, a 6-2 win over the Rockies on Tuesday. "I think he's getting stronger and stronger."

"My arm felt great," Saunders said that same night. "I kind of knew when I was warming up that I had good life on my fastball and everything was kind of working in the bullpen, so I was like, 'I can't wait to get this thing started.'"

Mets: Bay staying in the lineup
Despite his season-long struggles, Jason Bay is going to remain in the Mets' lineup, according to manager Terry Collins. "He's going to be in there," Collins said on Saturday. "He's the answer to what we're trying to find, and that's that big right-handed bat. If you sit him down ... he's not going to get better."

Bay went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts on Saturday.

D-backs: Gibson keeping himself informed
With the non-waiver Trade Deadline coming up on Tuesday, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said he's frequently in contact with club executive vice president and general manager Kevin Towers. After Saturday's 6-3 win, Arizona is fifth in the National League Wild Card standings.

"I talked to him a little last night; he's very busy, I know that," Gibson said. "It seems like those guys talk all the time. When he's around me, his phone rings all the time."

Worth Noting
• Arizona has won 10 of its last 12 home games.

• With his three-home run performance on Saturday, Davis set a career high with 20 home runs on the season. He has 15 homers since June 12.

• Mets third baseman David Wright is one home run shy of becoming the third player in franchise history to reach the 200 homers. Darryl Strawberry (252) and Mike Piazza (220) are the other two.

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