Dillon Gee breezes until sixth as Phillies' Ryan Howard strikes again

Mets starting pitcher Dillon Gee throws a pitch. Mets starting pitcher Dillon Gee throws a pitch. (April 26, 2013) Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

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Still at the top of the Mets' to-do list after Friday night's 4-0 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies: Find more starting pitching and shake Ike Davis out of his April batting torpor.

For five innings, Dillon Gee matched Philadelphia's Kyle Kendrick in posting all bagels in the inning-by-inning totals. Then the Philadelphia sixth turned what had begun to look like a pleasing Gee concert into a kazoo solo at the Philharmonic.

Hard back-to-back-to-back singles by Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Michael Young produced one run before Ryan Howard lost a Gee pitch in the distant centerfield stands for a three-run homer. In less time than it took to replace suddenly ill plate umpire Brian O'Nora in the first inning -- a 10-minute game delay while first-base ump Adrian Johnson dressed for the part -- a scoreless tie became a Philadelphia blowout.

"That happens if you leave a couple of balls up in one inning," Gee said. "I wouldn't say it was surprising, but it definitely flipped pretty quick. I felt in control, and then maybe three balls I wish I could have back and it would have been a different story. I didn't execute a couple pitches and it really hurt me."

Gee (1-4) had allowed only three hits through five innings -- one was a pop-up lost by rightfielder Mike Baxter and another a weak flare -- but his ultimate loss left Mets starters not named Matt Harvey (4-0) with a combined 3-7 record.

Mets manager Terry Collins, meanwhile, worked with the reasonable hypothesis that a reshaped batting order might jump-start Davis and give David Wright more RBI opportunities. Baxter led off ahead of Ruben Tejada, Daniel Murphy was moved to third, Wright went to the cleanup spot and Davis was dropped to seventh.

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But the Mets could squeeze only three singles out of Kendrick (2-1). Davis was 0-for-2 with a walk and Wright, in his only at-bat with a runner aboard -- in the first, the only time the Mets got a runner to second base -- flied out to right.

"He threw the ball well," said Murphy, still hitting .329 after an 0-for-4 night. "I didn't put the greatest [at-bats] on him, but he got away with only about 105 pitches [107] for a complete game. Sometimes you've got to tip your cap and get ready for tomorrow."

Even with the juggled lineup, Collins insisted that "the one thing you don't want to do is start panicking in the clubhouse, because you need those guys to stay positive."

As for the pitching, Shaun Marcum, a 31-year-old free agent signed in January but yet to make his Mets debut because of nerve inflammation in his neck, said he "feels great" and is ready for his debut Saturday.

"I'm sure I'll have a little bit of adrenaline," Marcum said. "A lot more than I've had in extended spring games. I'm looking forward to it."

For the 10-11 Mets, forward is the only way to look.

Notes & quotes: Howard has four home runs in 12 career at-bats against Gee, and it was his 36th career homer against the Mets, most among active players.

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