NEW YORK (AP) — Dillon Gee seemed all set to pitch yet another shutout. Once that bid slipped away, a win was plenty for him and the New York Mets.
Gee extended the Mets’ scoreless string to 29 innings before Baltimore broke through late, and New York held off the Orioles 4-3 on a steamy Wednesday night for a three-game sweep.
After R.A. Dickey pitched a one-hitter Monday night and Johan Santana teamed with a trio of relievers Tuesday night, Gee (5-5) nearly handed the Orioles their third straight shutout.
“It’s tough to follow those guys,” Gee said. “It’s unbelievable what they’ve been doing.”
Gee said sure, his goal was “to keep the streak going.” He quickly added: “I’m not Johan and R.A.”
“My job is to put the team in position to win,” he said.
The Mets led 4-0 until Wilson Betemit hit a two-run homer in the eighth. Steve Pearce drew a bases-loaded walk in the ninth before Brian Roberts grounded out to end it.
Gee had been nicked only by pitcher Brian Matusz’s single — his first big league hit — until Nick Johnson opened the eighth with an infield single and Betemit followed with a second-deck home run.
“Things happen quick. You’ve got to refocus,” Gee said.
Silent for so long, the Orioles then threatened to go ahead. But with two on and two outs, Chris Davis hit a fly ball off Bobby Parnell that left fielder Scott Hairston caught against the wall.
Frank Francisco escaped a jam in the ninth for his 17th save in 20 chances, completing the combined six-hitter.
Gee struck out a career-high nine and walked two in 7 1-3 innings. No one on the Orioles had ever faced Gee, and it showed — he retired 13 straight batters, starting with J.J. Hardy’s lineout with runners on first and second to end the third.
Gee also doubled and scored a run.
It was 94 degrees at gametime. There were heat advisories posted in the city all day, and the warm weather may have contributed to a record nine home runs flying out of the new Yankee Stadium in Atlanta’s 10-5 win earlier in the afternoon.
But the ball wasn’t carrying at Citi Field — at least not for the Orioles most of the game.
As Gee went into the late innings, Mets manager Terry Collins said, “I thought for sure Dillon was going to shut them out.”
Baltimore’s scoreless streak reached 28 innings, its longest since a 29-inning drought in 2003, STATS LLC said. The Orioles totaled just 12 hits in the series while striking out 29 times. They dropped their sixth in a row to the Mets, dating to a 2010 series at Camden Yards.
“It’s a great park for defense and pitching, and they did that well,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
“Our starting pitching presented itself pretty well the last three games. It’s just tough to match up with the starts they got,” he said.
Matusz (5-8) struggled again in interleague play, dropping to 0-7 in AL vs. NL matchups. He gave up three runs and seven hits in 4 2-3 innings.
Matusz did get his first hit, however, lining a two-out single up the middle in the third after starting his career 0 for 7 at the plate.
The Mets took a 1-0 lead in the fourth. Mike Nickeas got an RBI single on a sinking liner that Gold Glove center fielder Adam Jones reached in the right-center alley with a headlong dive, only to have the ball bounce out of his mitt.
Hairston hit an RBI double in the fifth and another run scored on Ike Davis’ forceout, with Vinny Rottino making a hard takeout slide into second.
Gee and David Wright doubled in the sixth for a 4-0 lead.
NOTES: The Mets are off Thursday, then begin the Subway Series at home on Friday night. LHP Jonathon Niese starts the opener for the Mets against Yankees LHP Andy Pettitte. … Wright extended his hitting streak to 11 games. … Davis is in an 0-for-20 rut. … The Orioles have been shut out three straight times just once, in 1957. … Orioles OF Nick Markakis will get a checkup Friday in Baltimore on his broken right wrist. He had surgery June 1 and Showalter said it’s unlikely Markakis will play before July. … Nickeas had a rough go on one pitch in the ninth. Betemit’s foul ball hit him the mask and the backswing caught Nickeas on the arm.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)