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Duda's two home runs power Mets past Braves

New York Mets' Lucas Duda, right, is congratulated

New York Mets' Lucas Duda, right, is congratulated at the dugout after hitting a home run during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves. (April 7, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

Doubt hounded Lucas Duda in the past. And as insecurity festered, he couldn't help but question his major-league potential.

"I think everybody does," he said quietly. "I don't think you're human if you don't."

But at some point last season, his perspective changed. So did his confidence and his bat speed.

And Saturday, Duda accented the notion that he can be a home run-hitting machine for the Mets this season.

Duda went deep twice in a 4-2 win over the Braves at Citi Field, recording the first multi-homer game of his career, as the Mets improved to 2-0.

Duda's two line-drive solo shots helped get the win for knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who allowed two earned runs, five hits and four walks in six innings, striking out three.

Duda gave the Mets a 2-0 advantage in the fourth when he sent a first-pitch fastball from Jair Jurrjens 410 feet over the GEICO sign in right-centerfield, well beyond the new 390-foot wall. Last season, that same shot would not have gone over the wall, which was 415 feet away.

Duda's second home run didn't need any help. He made it 4-2 in the eighth when he lined a cutter from Chad Durbin about 360 feet, well over the rightfield wall.

"Thank goodness they moved the walls in," said Duda, 26, who had 10 home runs in 301 at-bats last season. "The wind was blowing a bit, so that probably helped out too. It's nice to have those walls in a bit. It plays fair now."

David Wright (3-for-5) also homered Saturday, then joked that he didn't need any help from the new ballpark configurations.

"Maybe one day [Duda] can hit the ball as far as me," joked Wright, who gave the Mets a 1-0 lead in the first when he crushed a two-out homer 430 feet to right-centerfield -- a shot that easily cleared the old stadium wall.

Kidding aside, Wright spoke glowingly of Duda's transformation from a kid who looked "a little overmatched" when he first got called up to a ballplayer Wright now would "put up against anybody in the league as far as power.''

"He [can] hit. I mean, there's no question about it," Wright said. "What he did in spring training was not a fluke. The sky's the limit for him."

Dickey stumbled in the fifth when Michael Bourn walked with two outs and Martin Prado homered to tie it at 2. The Mets regained the lead in the bottom of the inning, when Josh Thole's single to right drove in Ike Davis. Duda's second homer in the seventh provided an insurance run and Frank Francisco earned his second save.

Dickey said Saturday's game was a "great community win.''

"Today was about a rookie getting his first two hits," he said of call-up Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who went 2-for-4 in his major-league debut. "And Lucas getting his first multi-home run game -- probably of many. That's what the day should be about."

Confidence no longer is an issue for Duda, who hit .315 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs in the final two months of the 2011 season.

"One thing about a young player is they eventually learn how to pull balls," manager Terry Collins said. "And with that, when you're as big and strong as he is, you're going to learn how to hit the ball and you're going to start hitting homers . . . That's exactly what he's done."

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