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ATL@NYM: Gee allows two runs over 6 2/3 innings

Dillon Gee spent part of his Saturday afternoon shooting a small basketball on a toy hoop the Mets recently hung in their clubhouse, his Sunday matinee start against righty A.J. Burnett and the Phillies not quite on the forefront of his mind, instead replaced by a rebounding Dana Eveland and an unfriendly rim.

Like most of his second half, the drill was no slam dunk. Gee has pitched to a 5.29 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP in eight post-All-Star break starts and has lasted fewer than six innings per game on average.

There are reasons to believe, however, that the 28-year-old right-hander -- who was having a fine season until a lat injury derailed it in May -- will be effective in the series finale against Philadelphia. First, there is Gee's most recent outing, a 6 2/3-inning effort in which he limited the Braves to two runs.

Gee didn't feel particularly sharp, even if the results were better than they have been.

"It's funny it looked that way," Gee said Tuesday. "I struggled throwing my breaking ball in some of those innings. The changeup was a good pitch for me tonight. I was able to throw that behind in the count, get ahead with it and throw it when I needed to."

Nevertheless, it did represent one of his better starts of late, and the only one that was clearly better came against the same team he'll face Sunday. On Aug. 9, the Phillies managed one run on three hits during Gee's seven innings.

Burnett, meanwhile, might also be trending upward after a brutal second-half stretch. He held the Nationals to one run over seven innings on Monday, striking out a season-high 12 to collect his first win in a month and a half. Prior to that start, he owned a 6.41 ERA and a 1.68 WHIP in seven starts coming out of the break.

Those recent struggles triggered talk of a potential retirement, which could alter the Phillies' rotation plans for 2015, especially given the holes they already have there. Burnett -- who signed a one-year, $16 million deal with Philly over the offseason -- has a $15 million mutual option for next season.

"You go out there and do that tonight and it makes you wonder," Burnett said Monday. "It's the first time I felt like me in a long time."

Phillies: Saturday's lineup was Majors' most frequent
The batting order Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg employed Saturday -- which featured Ben Revere at the top, the usuals in the middle and a bottom three of Domonic Brown, Carlos Ruiz and Cody Asche -- is the Majors' most frequent lineup used this season.

Saturday was the 16th time the Phillies have used that lineup, going 5-11 in those games. No other team has used the same lineup more than 11 times.

Sandberg suggested prior to the game that that version of the Phillies' offense might be "due," and the bats broke out with a 7-2 victory.

Mets: Collins manages 1,500th game
Saturday's Phillies-Mets contest was more than just another game for Terry Collins. For the fourth-year Mets manager, it was also the 1,500th game of his managerial career.

"It means I'm really, really lucky. That's exactly what it means," Collins said. "I've been very, very lucky. This has been a great experience, I've been in pennant races -- it's a lot of fun. I'm lucky to be able to do it as long as I've done it, and hopefully it can continue for a while."

Collins got his first big league managerial gig in the mid-1990s when he guided the Astros for three seasons. After 1996, he jumped to the then-Anaheim Angels for three more years, then worked other baseball jobs until getting hired as the Mets' skipper prior to the 2011 season.

Across Collins' three stops over 10 seasons, his record is 732-768 (.488). He has finished in the Top 10 in the Manager of the Year Award voting four times.

Worth noting
• Mets second baseman Dilson Herrera collected his first Major League hit (a single) in the seventh inning Saturday night. He finished 1-for-3 with a walk.

• Corner infielder Maikel Franco, the Phillies' No. 3 prospect, could join the Major League team as early as Monday when rosters expand.

• Despite potential trade targets Jonathan Papelbon and Burnett having cleared waivers, the Phillies appear unlikely to make any trades before the waiver Trade Deadline on Sunday.

• The Mets are 12-6 against the Phillies and 51-67 against everybody else in 2014. The loser of Sunday's rubber match will occupy the National League East basement.

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