Mets 5, Braves 0

In a season full of key injuries and negative financial news,

the New York Mets have found a bright spot: Dillon Gee.

The unheralded rookie is pitching like an ace.

Gee outdueled Jair Jurrjens to remain unbeaten this season and

Jose Reyes hit a bases-loaded triple, leading New York past the

Atlanta Braves 5-0 on Saturday night.

”I was really impressed because it was a game that we needed

some zeros,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. ”He’s proved that

he can pitch at this level and have success. All he does is give

you quality outings.”

Pinch-hitter Jason Pridie snapped a scoreless tie with an RBI

single in the seventh and the Mets took advantage of an error by

shortstop Alex Gonzalez to score five times in the inning.

New York’s struggling bullpen finally preserved a lead, too,

with Pedro Beato and Tim Byrdak combining for two perfect innings

to close it out.

”Better than the last few I watched,” Collins said.

The Mets set an unwanted major league record Friday night: Their

last six home losses have all come in games in which they led in

the seventh inning. The bullpen had a 10.57 ERA over the previous

12 games.

Gee (6-0) won his fourth straight start, needing only 85 pitches

to get through seven innings before he was lifted for a

pinch-hitter. Showing smarts and poise again, he allowed four hits

and walked two while finishing with a pair of strikeouts.

”He was definitely on top of his game. He was basically doing

anything he wanted tonight,” Braves slugger Chipper Jones said.

”Fastball in and out. Changeup, bottom dropping out of the

changeup. Cutter, which is something we were seeing for the first

time. Just really, really kept us off balance.”

Indeed, Gee said he fiddled with a cutter while warming up in

the bullpen and used it in a game for the first time. He threw five

of them and got three outs with that pitch.

Gee became the first rookie in club history to win his first six

decisions in a season as a starter. Jon Matlack, the 1972 NL Rookie

of the Year, opened 6-0 with one win out of the bullpen.

”I think the confidence factor is really good right now,” Gee

said. ”I’m glad to be helping the team. I don’t read too much into

it. I’m pitching to contact, changing speeds.”

The right-hander had to be sharp in his matchup with Jurrjens,

the National League pitcher of the month for May. The two of them

came in with the top winning percentages in the league.

New York has won all eight of Gee’s starts this season, making

him the only pitcher who has made at least five starts without his

team losing any of them.

”He’s good. He’s moving the ball in and out, up. He changed

speeds,” Jurrjens said. ”Everybody’s really about throwing hard

these days, but what Gee did today, that’s pitching.”

Jurrjens (7-2) was cruising along until his defense let him down

in the seventh.

With one out, slumping Jason Bay hit a grounder to Gonzalez and

the normally sure-handed shortstop fumbled it as he tried to make

the transfer from his glove to his throwing hand.

It was Gonzalez’s fourth error of the season.

”We blinked today. You can’t get mad at Gonzo because he’s

saved our butts for a lot of games,” Atlanta manager Fredi

Gonzalez said.

Josh Thole followed with a double to right and Jurrjens grazed

Ruben Tejada’s uniform top with a pitch, loading the bases. Pridie

punched a broken-bat single to right to put New York ahead 1-0.

Scott Proctor came on and Reyes ripped an 0-1 pitch into the

right-field corner for his major league-leading 10th triple,

prompting Citi Field fans to chant his name.

One night earlier, Reyes made a crucial error that allowed

Atlanta to tie the game in the eighth inning of a 6-3 victory. A

few innings before that, about 800 fans met on a pedestrian bridge

beyond the right-center wall to cheer Reyes and urge Mets

management to keep the All-Star shortstop, who can become a free

agent after the season.

”He’s an amazing player,” Pridie said. ”We’ve had a tough

little run in this homestand, so it was great to tack on a few

runs.”

Justin Turner added a sacrifice fly, making it 5-0.

The Braves dropped to 13-7 at Citi Field and failed again in

their third attempt to move a season-high seven games over

.500.

New York improved to 4-5 on its 10-game homestand.

Jurrjens allowed four runs – three earned – and six hits in 6

1-3 innings. He struck out six and walked none. His major

league-best ERA rose from 1.51 to 1.75.

”He was pitching really well and I just wanted to keep us right

there,” Gee said.

In his first nine starts this season, Jurrjens had gone at least

six innings and not allowed more than two earned runs. The Braves

said the only other pitchers in major league history to do that

were Ubaldo Jimenez, who went 12 games last year, Randy Johnson

(2000) and Lefty Gomez (1937), according to the Elias Sports

Bureau.

NOTES: Fredi Gonzalez said Jones will be rested Sunday night and

LF Martin Prado will move to 3B. … Collins acknowledged the Mets

probably made an error in judgment when they let 3B David Wright

keep playing for nearly a month with a stress fracture in his lower

back. Wright has been on the disabled list since May 16 and won’t

be able to do any baseball activities for another three weeks.