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Juan Lagares' glovework helps Dillon Gee beat Twins

Juan Lagares crashes into the centerfield wall after

Juan Lagares crashes into the centerfield wall after catching a ball hit by Minnesota Twins outfielder Josh Willingham during the first inning. (Aug. 19, 2013) Credit: Getty

MINNEAPOLIS -- Juan Lagares read the flight of the ball immediately. The Mets centerfielder turned his back to the plate and then churned his legs at full speed. The whole time, he watched the ball over his shoulder, finally catching up to Josh Willingham's first-inning drive as the ground beneath him turned from turf to dirt.

His momentum still under control, Lagares crashed his back into the padded fence in the deepest reaches of Target Field, though the ball remained lodged in the tip of his glove. Somehow, he made it look easy.

So it went Monday for Lagares, who made this cavernous park look like a bandbox in the Mets' 6-1 win over the Twins.

"The only thing I know is that he made good contact," said Lagares, who had the wind knocked out of him on his latest defensive gem. "I know I had to go hard. I gave everything I got."

Dillon Gee allowed just one unearned run in 72/3 innings, though the Twins were not without their share of well-struck balls. And the Mets' offense overcame its own inefficiencies, lashing 14 hits while scoring six runs and stranding eight runners.

Much of it was possible because of Lagares. His lunging catch to rob Willingham in the first was the only play worthy of a spot on a highlight reel. But he also ran down drives by Brian Dozier and Pedro Florimon.

Because Lagares covered large chunks of ground, the Mets were spared from game-changing extra-base hits. Gee was the beneficiary, recording seven flyouts, five caught by Lagares.

"It gives you confidence to keep attacking because you know you've got guys out there that are playing hard and making all the plays for you," Gee said.

The pitcher caught a break in the eighth when Joe Mauer's drive to right-center banged off the top of the 23-foot fence. But in lowering his ERA to 1.47 over his last seven starts, Gee (9-8, 3.60) allowed a walk and six hits while striking out nine.

"Juan tracks down everything out there in centerfield," Gee said. "It helps having that. Other than that, I'm throwing the ball probably the best I've really ever thrown it."

The Twins' only run came on second baseman Daniel Murphy's seventh-inning error. His misplay on Clete Thomas' grounder allowed Trevor Plouffe to score. Otherwise, the Mets closed out their 11-game road trip on a high note. Monday's game was a makeup from a snowed-out date in April.

Still, the Mets (57-66) emerged from their four-city road trip at 5-6. They begin a nine-game homestand Tuesday night against the Braves.

"We stayed in games because we caught the baseball again," Terry Collins said. "And that makes a big difference."

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