Dillon Gee had just gotten the final out of the seventh inning with his 97th pitch Saturday when he was due to lead off the bottom of the inning.
Instead of heading to the showers for a pinch hitter, Gee went right up to Terry Collins, then to the bat rack after getting his manager to allow him to pitch one more inning with a two-run lead.
"I told him, 'Hey, All-Star break's coming up, let me go,' " Gee said. "And he said, 'OK. You feel great?' And I said, 'Yeah, I feel fine.' "
And it worked out fine. Gee threw an eight-pitch, 1-2-3 eighth and Bobby Parnell picked up his second save as interim closer -- with a little help from a superb catch by Ruben Tejada -- as the Mets beat the Cubs, 3-1, at Citi Field.
Collins said he did consider using a pinch hitter until Gee convinced him otherwise.
"He knew he was leading off," Collins said, "and as soon as he came down the steps, he looked at me and said, 'Look, I feel great.' I said, 'Then you're hitting.' Good for him."
Gee (6-7), who had lost four of his previous five starts, allowed one run in matching his longest career outing. He gave up seven hits, walked none and struck out four.
"He really pitched good today," Collins said. "That's the Dillon Gee we've seen."
Jordany Valdespin, who started in leftfield, hit his second homer in as many days and Ike Davis belted a two-run shot for the Mets (46-39), who conclude the first half of the season in Sunday's series finale.
Valdespin, who had a pinch- hit home run in the ninth inning Friday night in the Mets' 8-7 loss, homered to right in the second inning Saturday off Jeff Samardzija (6-8). It was the rookie's fourth home run and gave the Mets a 1-0 lead.
Davis, from the cleanup spot, hit a two-run blast off the facing of the second deck in right with two outs in the third. Davis' 12th tied him with Lucas Duda and Scott Hairston for the team lead.
Then it was up to Gee. After pitching five scoreless innings, he allowed a run in the sixth when Luis Valbuena dunked a leadoff double to left and scored on David DeJesus' one-out single to center.
The Cubs had a chance to get more when Anthony Rizzo singled one out later and Gee fell behind Alfonso Soriano 3-and-0. But Gee recovered and struck out Soriano on a high 92-mph fastball to end the inning.
"I'd been throwing him curveballs all day and it looked like he didn't want to hit that," Gee said. "I just kept throwing them trying to get back in the count, and then after all those curveballs, that one fastball up just snuck by him a little bit. That was a huge situation."
Parnell allowed a leadoff double to Rizzo in the ninth but retired the next three hitters. Tejada -- who went 2-for-4 with a run and is batting .327 -- made the defensive play of the game for the second out when he ranged far out into short centerfield to catch Bryan LaHair's pop-up with a slide with his back to the infield.
"What a play by Tejada," said Gee, who saw it on TV from the trainer's room. "That was unbelievable."
"I didn't think he was going to get to it," Collins said. "But I'll tell you, big-time players make big-time plays. That was a big-time play."