Mets welcome Gee back for finale vs. Padres

( - Six apparently isn't a crowd for the New York Mets.

The Mets begin their six-man rotation experiment on Wednesday night with the return of right-hander Dillon Gee for the finale of a three-game set with the San Diego Padres.

Gee is set to return from a groin injury that has sidelined him for the past month. New York promoted prospect Noah Syndergaard to replace him in the rotation and is opting to keep him a part of the mix as the Mets plan to use their extended rotation possibly through August in an attempt to limit the innings of their young arms.

"It is better for the player," New York pitching coach Dan Warthen told his team's website last week. "It's better for the organization, at least, until we get to where we feel like we have plenty of innings left in September and still have the possibility of innings left in October."

Gee last pitched for the Mets on May 3, taking a tough-luck 1-0 loss that dropped him to 0-2 with a 3.86 earned run average in five starts. In three rehab starts, he went 0-1 with a 1.69 ERA.

The 29-year-old has split four previous starts against the Padres while posting a 2.52 ERA.

While Syndergaard has shown some excellent form over his first five major league starts, he struggled in last night's 7-2 loss. He yielded all seven runs on 10 hits over four innings, though he did strike out 10.

Syndergaard became the second pitcher in the modern era to allow double-digit hits and record double-digit strikeouts in fewer than five innings of work. The first instance came in Monday's opener, when San Diego's Andrew Cashner was charged with six runs -- five earned -- on 11 hits with 12 strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings of a loss.

Michael Cuddyer and Wilmer Flores each drove in a run for the Mets, who had a two-game winning streak snapped.

Ian Kennedy snapped a four-start losing streak as he gave up just two runs on six hits with a pair of walks and eight strikeouts in six innings to earn the win for San Diego.

"You could see his confidence build with all his pitches," Padres manager Bud Black said.

Derek Norris hit a two-run homer, while Will Venable and Alexi Amarista each drove in a pair of runs as San Diego won for the fifth time in eight games. Activated from the 15-day disabled list prior to the game, Yonder Alonso went 3-for-4 and scored twice. Alonso returned to the lineup last night after missing 23 games with a right shoulder injury.

Unbeaten right-hander James Shields gets the start for the Padres tonight and is 6-0 with a 3.69 ERA through 11 starts this season, his first with San Diego.

Shields has given up eight runs while striking out 33 over his last four starts and is coming off a no-decision against Pittsburgh on Friday. He was charged with two runs on six hits and two walks over six innings, fanning six in a game his club won 6-2.

The 33-year-old beat the Mets the only other time he faced them, yielding a run and three hits over seven innings of work.

The Padres and Mets split six meetings a season ago.