- Adam Rubin, ESPN Staff Writer
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WHAT IT MEANS: Dillon Gee limited Baltimore to three hits -- one by the opposing pitcher, no less -- and took a scoreless effort into the eighth as the Orioles were swept out of Citi Field with a 4-3 loss Wednesday.
Frank Francisco officially converted his 17th save in 20 chances despite the Orioles loading the bases in the ninth, then Francisco walking Steve Pearce on four pitches to force in a run.
The Mets ran their scoreless streak to a season-high 29 innings before Gee allowed a leadoff single to Nick Johnson, then served up a two-run homer to Wilson Betemit in the eighth.
New York Mets
The Mets had won a pair of 5-0 games to open the series, and had taken a 4-0 lead into the eighth inning Wednesday.
They were bidding for their second three-game series sweep without allowing a run in three years. During a May 25-27, 2010, visit by the Philadelphia Phillies to Citi Field, the Mets posted three straight shutouts behind starts from R.A. Dickey, Hisanori Takahashi and Mike Pelfrey.
Gee was pulled after a one-out walk in the eighth followed Betemit's long ball. The 7 1/3-inning outing was the third longest of Gee's career. He matched a career high with nine strikeouts.
Bobby Parnell completed the eighth to preserve a two-run lead, although fans had to hold their breath as Chris Davis sent a shot to the track in left field with two aboard that Scott Hairston ultimately corralled.
The Mets’ 29-inning scoreless streak passed by one inning their previous long of the season (28 from May 25-28).
Semi-humorously, the lone hit allowed by Gee through seven innings came on a two-out single in the third by Brian Matusz. It was the AL pitcher’s first professional hit. In preparation for National League play last week, Matusz had bunted a ball into his face, bruising and bloodying his nose, and forcing a scheduled start to be pushed back two days.
The second hit surrendered by Gee did not come until Johnson led off the eighth with an infield single, which snapped a streak of 13 straight batters retired and preceded Betemit’s homer.
Gee posted his first win in five starts. The drought came despite having not allowed more than three earned runs in any outing since a May 25 victory against the San Diego Padres.
The sweep continued a topsy-turvy pattern for the Mets: They were swept by the Yankees in the Bronx, swept the Rays, were swept by the Reds and now have swept the Orioles.
New York Mets
FOUR SCORE: Mike Nickeas drove in the opening run in the fourth inning, when his sinking liner in right-center went in and then out of the glove of fully extended center fielder Adam Jones.
An inning later, the Mets upped their lead to 3-0 against Matusz -- on a run-scoring double by Hairston, then a fielder’s choice RBI groundout from Ike Davis, when Vinny Rottino’s takeout slide at second base thwarted a double-play attempt.
David Wright had an RBI double against ex-Met Luis Ayala in the sixth that made it 4-0.
OUCH: Nickeas took a foul ball underneath his mask in the ninth on a foul ball off Betemit's bat, but he remained in the game.
WHAT’S NEXT: After an off-day Thursday, the Yankees visit Citi Field for the weekend. Jon Niese (4-3, 3.82 ERA) opposes fellow southpaw Andy Pettitte (3-2, 2.77) in the series opener.