Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey kept Washington swinging at shadows on a sunny afternoon, Lucas Dudas homered again and the New York Mets averted a sweep, beating the Nationals 3-1 Thursday.

Dickey (9-1) tossed four-hit ball for scoreless 7 1-3 innings and extended the longest shutout streak of his career to 24 2-3 innings -- a span that began against Pittsburgh and continued against San Diego, St. Louis and the Nats.

Dickey became the first pitcher in the majors to reach nine wins this season. He also exceeded his victory total from last year, when he often was the victim of poor run support.

Duda backed Dickey with his fifth homer in eight games, a two-run shot in the fifth against Chien-Ming Wang (1-2).

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