By Matt Beardmore
(AP) — New York Mets rookie right-hander Dillon Gee was uncharacteristically wild in his last outing. Returning home could help the Texas native feel a bit more at ease.
Gee tries to bounce back from his first loss of the season Sunday when the Mets and AL West-leading Texas Rangers close out their series in Arlington.
Looking to become the first Mets pitcher since Dwight Gooden in 1988 to win his first eight decisions in a season, Gee (7-1, 3.21 ERA) walked a career-high six – all in the first three innings – and surrendered a season high-tying four runs and three hits over four innings of Tuesday’s 7-3 home loss to Oakland.
The right-hander had issued six free passes in his previous five outings.
“That’s certainly not the guy we know,” said Mets manager Terry Collins.
Plenty of people will know Gee as he makes his first start in Arlington. The right-hander, who lives in Fort Worth, grew up 45 minutes from Rangers Ballpark in Cleburne, Texas, and he was a 21st-round pick of the Mets in 2007 out of Texas-Arlington.
Gee can only hope the Mets’ offense produces like it did in Saturday’s 14-5 victory. Led by Lucas Duda’s career highs of four hits and four RBIs, New York (38-39) rebounded from Friday’s 8-1 series-opening loss with a season high in runs. Its 17 hits tied a season best.
“It was fun,” Duda told the Mets’ official website after matching a club record with three doubles. “Texas is a tough ballclub. They pitch well, they play defense well, they hit well. It’s a great team. It was just a fun day. Everything was clicking for us.”
The Rangers (41-37), meanwhile, hope for a solid outing from Derek Holland (6-2, 4.69) after giving up their most runs in an interleague game since a 17-8 loss to San Diego on June 7, 1998.
The left-hander, who yielded 10 runs in his previous two starts – both on the road – yielded three runs in 7 1-3 innings in Monday’s 8-3 victory over Houston to improve to 3-0 with a 6.10 ERA in Arlington in 2011.
“My offense is still doing the same thing they always do,” said Holland, who has the majors’ highest run-support average at home at 8.92.
Holland has never faced New York.
Mets left fielder Jason Bay, 2 for 6 with a home run off the Rangers left-hander, is expected to be in the lineup for the series finale after sitting Saturday with neck stiffness.
Second baseman Justin Turner will also likely to return after missing one game with a jammed right thumb.
Texas will be without shortstop Elvis Andrus for a second straight contest after he suffered a sprained left wrist on a stolen base attempt Friday.
Josh Hamilton had his 18-game home hitting streak in interleague play snapped Saturday, but Michael Young continues to feast on NL pitching. He is batting .442 (19 for 43) with three homers and seven RBIs while hitting safely in 10 straight interleague contests.
The Mets are going for their first series win on the road in interleague play since a three-game sweep over Cleveland from June 15-17, 2010.
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