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Duda breaks out of slump in Subway Series opener

Lucas Duda of the New York Mets celebrates

Lucas Duda of the New York Mets celebrates his second-inning home run against the New York Yankees with third base coach Tim Teufel at Citi Field on Friday, Sept. 18, 2015. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Lucas Duda's weekend schedule may have slightly changed.

Asked before Friday night's game what the struggling Duda had to do in order to remain in the Mets' lineup this weekend, Terry Collins provided a brief and simple answer.

"Hits," Collins said.  "Get some hits."

Is two of them enough? Duda, perhaps an 0-fer away from taking a seat on the bench, likely bought himself some playing time this weekend after going 2-for-4 with a solo home run in the Mets' 5-1 win over the Yankees on Friday night at Citi Field.  

Duda, who had been 3-for-25 since returning from a back injury on Sept. 8, launched a hanging slider from Masahiro Tanaka for a solo home run that evened the score at 1 in the second inning.  It was Duda's 22nd homer of the season, but his first since Aug. 2, ending a 19-game drought.  

"I'm happy to contribute," he said after the game. "You have to put personal things aside. It's time to win ballgames."

Duda helped the Mets win another on Friday.  His bid for a three-hit day was denied when his grounder between first and second base was fielded in shallow right thanks to the Yankees' defensive shift. He flied out to the warning track in center in his final at-bat.  But Duda hit the ball hard each time up, meaning he may find his name in the lineup for the remainder of the Subway Series.   

"Duda has the ability to put an offense on his back and carry them," David Wright said.  "As we saw a little bit before he got hurt, he was about as hot as anybody in baseball....If we get Duda going, and keep doing what we've been doing, it can be a dangerous lineup."

It was Friday night as Daniel Murphy crushed a 431-foot homer to right-center field off Tanaka to give the Mets a 2-1 advantage in the sixth inning. Juan Uribe cushioned the lead with a two-run homer  in the seventh.

Despite hitting the go-ahead homer, Murphy felt it was Duda who set the tone.

"Once they go up one with the way [Tanaka's] throwing the ball, for Lucas to have that at-bat right there and bang one and get it back real fast for us it let us as an offense I think relax," Murphy said.  "That was a great at-bat."

An at-bat that probably earned Duda more at-bats.

Collins did say before the game that Duda's timing was still off because with no way to replicate the quality of major league pitching during a minor league rehab assignment, it is difficult to regain rhythm.

 After the game, Duda admitted he still is trying to get his timing back.  Should he find it with additional at-bats over the final weeks of the regular season, he will add another dimension to what has already been a potent Mets lineup.

"You're going to go through ups and downs," Duda said.  "Just try to keep that even keel, go out tomorrow and play hard. That's all you can do."

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