Gee certainly added some equity in the Mets' 3-1 win against the Cubs, throwing eight innings of one-run ball to tie the longest outing of his career. He put up the same numbers on June 10, 2011, against the Pirates, but he had eight runs of support in that game. He had a 3-0 lead after the third inning this time, and he made it stick.
"Especially that early in the game, you can't really think that three runs is going to do it," said Ike Davis, who hit a two-run homer in the third. "But Dillon pitched a heckuva game, and it ended up being enough."
Homers from Davis and Jordany Valdespin were all the offense Gee needed after aces R.A. Dickey and Johan Santana struggled the previous two nights. He is the first to admit he is not them -- Collins did not put up any fight when Santana told him he would stay in the game, even if it took 134 pitches, during his June 1 no-hitter -- but Gee resembled a front-line starter this time. He struck out four, walked none and allowed seven hits a night after the Cubs delivered 18.
Chicago's only run came in a shaky sixth -- the only inning in which the leadoff batter reached base against Gee. Luis Valbuena doubled to start the frame, then scored on an RBI single from David DeJesus. The next two batters reached base before Gee fell behind Alfonso Soriano, 3-0, but the right-hander battled back.
"We needed strike one," said catcher Josh Thole. "You're not willing to put a guy on there. You know that [Gee] has the ability of throwing any pitch at any time, so that's what we had on our side."
Strike one was a 91-mph fastball, then a pair of mid-70-mph curveballs for a called strike and a foul ball. Gee threw another fastball at 92 mph with the count full to strike out Soriano and escape, then allowed only one more batter to reach base over two more scoreless innings.
"He mixed a slow curveball and changeups, and he didn't get beat with his fastball," said Cubs manager Dale Sveum. "He kept everybody off-balance all day."
Ruben Tejada saved any chance of a late-inning Chicago rally with his glove in the ninth, tracking back a bloop that Collins thought was destined to fall between his left fielder, center fielder and shortstop.
But Tejada snagged it over his shoulder for the second out before Bobby Parnell struck out Steve Clevinger looking to earn his second save and nail down Gee's sixth win.
It evened the series with one game to go entering the All-Star break and gave the Mets their second win in as many weeks against Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija. They knocked the right-hander around in a 17-1 rout June 27 at Wrigley Field, and while this one was not as lopsided, the Mets remained in control throughout.
Davis homered for the second time this season against Samardzija, sending an 0-2 splitter smacking off the facing of the Pepsi Porch in right field. Valdespin homered for the second consecutive at-bat, sending a solo shot into the Mets' bullpen in the second after he hit a pinch-hit homer in a ninth-inning rally that fell short the night before.
"I'm looking for a fastball every time," said Valdespin, who is 3-for-4 with three runs and a pair of homers since returning from Triple-A Buffalo on Wednesday.
Davis is just looking to contribute, dismissing an average that reached a season-high .205 after his 1-for-4 day at the plate. But he now has 12 homers and 49 RBIs, and his two-run blast in the third inning provided the decisive runs.
Gee cruised through most of the next five frames, even if he had to ask for the last one.
"He's pretty honest, but he knew he was leading off, and as soon as he came down the steps, he looked at me and said, 'Hey, I feel great,'" Collins said. "Good for him."