NEW YORK (AP) - Nine months removed from his last big league start, Dillon Gee was back on the mound for the New York Mets.
He missed the second half of last season after developing a blood clot in his shoulder and undergoing surgery. And while Gee didn't win in his return, he allowed just one run and three hits over 6 1-3 innings Thursday in a 2-1 loss to the San Diego Padres.
``It felt great today,' he said. ``I put it behind me a long time ago. Today really felt just like any other day, any other start.'
With Johan Santana out for the season following shoulder surgery, the Mets needed some good health news about a pitcher. Shaun Marcum, who didn't pitch in spring training games after March 16, had an MRI of his neck Thursday and was diagnosed with nerve inflammation. He had an injection, will travel back to the team's spring training complex on Friday and rest for at least two days.
Gee is part of the reshaped rotation that for now includes Jonathon Niese, Matt Harvey, Jeremy Hefner and Aaron Laffey. A day after pitching eight innings to beat the Chicago Cubs, Gee had said last July 8 he felt numbness in fingers on his right hand. Tests revealed the clot, and doctors used a vein from his groin area to widen the artery during July 13, a procedure to prevent future clots.
Gee (0-1) wasn't at his sharpest against the Padres, walking three. He allowed his only run in the fourth, when one-out singles by Mark Kotsay and Yonder Alonso put runners on the corners, and Jedd Gyorko pulled a 1-2 changeup over the third-base bag for a double and his first big league RBI.
``He pitched well enough to win. We just weren't good enough to come through for him today,' Mets catcher John Buck said. ``He threw just two curveballs. I felt like if he stayed in longer he could have started using that more. His fastball, changeup, and slider were good enough to do that today.'
Gee was less impressed.
``Nothing really felt very good,' he said. ``I made some decent pitches when I had to, but it was just one of those days when it doesn't feel like it is coming off (your hand) well.'
Jeurys Familia allowed another run in the eighth when pinch-hitter Chris Denorfia walked leading off, Alonso singled him to third and Familia bounced a slider over the glove of Buck, who tried for a backhand grab.
Eric Stults (1-0) and five relievers combined on a five-hitter and struck out 14 for the Padres, who had not led in the first two days of the season as the Mets outscored them 19-6.
``Mixed up pitches, a variety of speeds, kept them off balance all day,' Padres manager Bud Black said. ``High and low with the fastball. In and out with the fastball. Good overhand curve. Good change. Little slider to the lefty. Pitched well.'
Brad Brach, Joe Thatcher, Dale Thayer, Luke Gregerson and Huston Street followed. Buck drove Street's first pitch off the facing of the second deck in left for his second homer of the series, and Street then retired three in a row for his first save.
Trying to open 3-0 for the second straight year, the Mets wore caps with orange bills for the first time in a regular-season game, rather than their usual model in solid royal blue. Some managers might be superstitious and not change anything during a winning streak, no matter how brief.
``We do like to break it up,' the Mets' Terry Collins said. ``Don't want people thinking it's just the uniform'
NOTES: The Mets were 0 for 10 with runners on base. ... David Wright struck out three times. ... Jeremy Hefner starts for the Mets on Friday against Miami's Alex Sanabia. ... Jason Marquis pitches for the Padres in their series opener at Colorado, which starts Jeff Francis.
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