PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- John Lannan allowed no earned runs in three innings and impressed Terry Collins in Wednesday's 6-4 Mets loss to the Cardinals. The Long Beach native is still considered a candidate for the fifth starter's job.

But Lannan knows his best chance with the Mets might come in an unfamiliar role: reliever.

"The possibility of it has been brought up to me," said Lannan, whose parents and grandmother were in attendance at Tradition Field. "But right now I started today and I'm going to act as if I'm starting five days from now until I'm told otherwise."

Lannan allowed two unearned runs on three hits. He struck out five.

"That's the best I've seen him throw," Collins said.

Lannan's heart is in starting -- he has made 148 major-league appearances, all starts -- but the lefthander is preparing mentally for a bullpen role if he doesn't beat out Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jenrry Mejia for a rotation spot.

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After his outing, Lannan chatted with closer Bobby Parnell about the need to limit first-inning damage. "It's probably something that I'll have to deal with," Lannan said.

Davis, Duda updates

Extra bases

Noah Syndergaard will pitch starter length in relief of Matsuzaka todayThursday against Washington. Collins said he hopes not to use another pitcher. . . Daniel Murphy went 0-for-3 after missing four days with a sore leg . . . Parnell walked a batter in a scoreless ninth.