- Last Updated: 4:32 AM, June 21, 2012
- Posted: 3:04 AM, June 21, 2012
Only on the Mets could a starting pitcher taking a one-hitter into the eighth inning seem like a ho-hum performance.
Dillon Gee never got his one-hitter or shutout last night, but it was still mission accomplished for the pitcher and his team. The Mets took the Gee train to the Subway Series, using 7 1/3 strong innings from the righty in a 4-3 victory that completed a three-game sweep of the Orioles at Citi Field.
Wilson Betemit’s two-run homer off Gee in the eighth ended a 29-inning scoreless streak — the longest in the majors this season — by Mets pitchers since Sunday. Included during that stretch was a one-hit shutout by R.A. Dickey against the Orioles before Johan Santana fired six shutout innings the following night.
“It [stinks] being the one to give up the runs,” Gee said. “It [stinks], but my job is to go out there and put us in a position to win and I did that tonight so I’m happy about it.
“You see what [Dickey and Santana] do and you want to do the same thing and keep the streak going and not let anybody down, but at the same time you have to fight that because I know I’m not Johan or R.A. Dickey. I have to go out there and be me.”
Gee (5-5) allowed three hits, two walks and two earned runs and matched a career high with nine strikeouts to get his first victory since May 25. Frank Francisco made it scary in the ninth, allowing a run before escaping a bases-loaded jam and earning his 17th save in 20 chances.
The victory gave the Mets (38-32) their second straight three-game sweep of an interleague opponent — they swept the Rays last week in St. Petersburg before coming home to lose three straight against the Reds — and kept them three games behind the Nationals in the NL East.
The next chore is the Yankees, who swept the Mets three games in The Bronx earlier this month.
Gee had retired 13 straight batters and took a one-hitter into the eighth before Nick Johnson’s infield single ended the Orioles’ drought. Betemit then homered to pull the Orioles within 4-2, and Gee never finished the inning. That was fine with manager Terry Collins, who said he needed to find work for Francisco.
“I thought, ‘God, I want to get Frankie in, but [Gee] is going to go to the ninth inning with a shutout,’ ” Collins said. “I just felt the way he was pitching that was what was going to happen. His pitch count wasn’t really up there.”
David Wright’s RBI double in the sixth against Luis Ayala gave the Mets a 4-0 cushion. Gee smashed a leadoff double to deep center — his second hit of the year — before Wright’s double produced his 39th RBI this season.
The Mets scrapped for two runs in the fifth to take a 3-0 lead. Scott Hairston’s RBI double brought in the first run before Ike Davis’ RBI fielder’s choice added another. Jordany Valdespin’s infield hit and Wright’s bloop single started the rally against Brian Matusz.
Catcher Mike Nickeas, who delivered an RBI single in the fourth, credited Dickey, Santana and Chris Young for having a positive influence on a young pitcher such as Gee.
“Those guys are veterans in the truest sense of the word,” Nickeas said. “You couldn’t find three better guys than Chris, Johan and R.A. to mentor you as a starting pitcher. They relish that as part of their job.”