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Lucas Duda flashes 400-foot sign that he might be coming out of slump

Lucas Duda of the Mets runs the bases

Lucas Duda of the Mets runs the bases after his first-inning three-run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field on Friday, July 10, 2015. Credit: Jim McIsaac

At this point, even a sliver of progress might be enough for Lucas Duda.

The lefthanded-hitting first baseman broke out as a power hitter last season, clocking 30 home runs, 15 more than his previous career high.

This season, however, has been a different story. Mired in a 9-for-73 slump entering Friday night's 4-2 Mets victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field, Duda had only 10 home runs, 34 RBIs and a .242 batting average.

Duda's .123 average in those 73 at-bats, which included 28 strikeouts, was the lowest average in the majors in that span among batters with at least 80 plate appearances.

And though Friday night wasn't quite the slump-busting performance Duda may have wanted, he did see a sliver of hope that his 2015 nightmare might be turning around.

He smashed a three-run homer in the bottom of the first inning to put the Mets ahead 3-1.

"It was a fastball, middle, middle," Duda said of the pitch he sent flying to straightaway centerfield. It clanged off the black facing that protects the Mets' home run apple.

The blast was his only hit of the night, as he finished 1-for-4 with three RBIs, a run and two strikeouts, but it was a big one after the Diamondbacks grabbed a 1-0 lead off Noah Syndergaard in the top of the first inning.

"I was definitely glad to contribute tonight," Duda said. "I haven't done that in a long time, so it's a good feeling."

Duda's home run was followed by a home run to leftfield by Michael Cuddyer, completing the four-run inning.

It was the fourth time this season the Mets have hit back-to-back home runs and the first time at Citi Field. Cuddyer's blast broke a homerless streak of 88 at-bats.

The four runs were the most in the first inning for the Mets since last July.

"That cushion was huge for us," Duda said of the crooked number. "Noah did an outstanding job tonight and Jeurys [Familia] came in and shut the door. Cuddyer was huge, too. It was a good overall team win tonight and hopefully we carry it into [Saturday afternoon]."

Duda's blast broke a homerless streak of 67 at-bats of his own. Before Friday night, his last home run came June 18 against Toronto's R.A Dickey, the former Mets knuckleballing Cy Young Award winner.

So does that mean the slump is soon to be history?

"Yeah, slowly," Duda said. "It's a process and I have to work through it."

He added, "I'm definitely not doing what I'm capable of. I'm not helping the team in ways that I should. I'll play the next two games, take the All-Star break off, take a deep breath and relax, and come back to work."

Manager Terry Collins called the home run "huge" and believes it signals brighter times ahead for Duda.

"He takes a lot of pride in what he does and who he is on the club," Collins said. "He was down on himself a little bit. It's human nature. I thought the home run tonight might really lift him up. If this guy gets hot, he's going to have a gigantic second half. We're all sitting here tonight talking like he's going to have 30 homers. When he does, our whole team is going to be dangerous."

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