Gee whiz: Mets' hurler toes rubber against Nationals

With top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler knocking at the door, Dillon Gee made the case to remain in the New York Mets' rotation last time out.

Gee looks to even his club's three-game series with the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night.

The right-hander headed into last Thursday's showdown with the New York Yankees having posted a 6.34 earned run average on the season, but held the Bronx Bombers to just a run on four hits without a walk. Gee also struck out a career-best 12 batters over 7 1/3 innings to log his longest start of the season.

He concluded his outing by retiring 15 consecutive batters -- the last five via strikeout -- after surrendering Robinson Cano's solo homer in the bottom of the third inning.

"He was doing a great job on both sides of the plate. He was working it up and down. It was about as complete as Dillon has pitched all year," said Mets manager Terry Collins.

Gee won for the first time in five starts and sits 3-6 with a 5.68 ERA through 11 starts this season.

The 27-year-old did beat the Nationals at home on April 21 with 5 2/3 scoreless innings, scattering three hits and three walks while striking out six in a 2-0 win.

Drawing the start for the Nationals is veteran right-hander Dan Haren, who is 0-3 over his last four starts despite giving up three runs or fewer in three of those outings.

That includes Thursday at Baltimore, where Haren suffered a tough-luck 2-0 setback after giving up both runs over 7 1/3 innings. Haren yielded eight hits and struck out five without a walk.

The 32-year-old is 4-6 with a 5.09 ERA in 11 starts this year and will face the Mets for the first time in 2013. He is 1-1 against the club lifetime with a 4.89 ERA in seven games (6 starts).

The Nats took the opener of this set 3-2, rallying from a one-run deficit to win on Steve Lombardozzi's walk-off sacrifice fly.

After Adam LaRoche singled home Ryan Zimmerman for the tying run, Mets closer Bobby Parnell continued to struggle in the frame and yielded a double to Ian Desmond. Parnell then intentionally walked Roger Bernadina to load the bases before Lombardozzi capped a lengthy at-bat with the sac fly.

"That's the first walk-off for me personally," Lombardozzi said. "Those are the moments you dream about."

Washington had lost four of five prior to the victory, while New York has now followed a five-game winning streak with four setbacks in a row.

New York had gone ahead in the fifth inning on Omar Quintanilla's two-run triple, but Parnell was unable to convert his eighth straight save chance, suffering his first blown save since April 29.

"They're a good-hitting team," Parnell added. "That's a good part of their lineup. I didn't walk them or anything like that."

The Mets won two of three in New York over the Nationals from April 19-21 after Washington won 14 of the 18 meetings a season ago.