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Reds-Mets Preview

The Associated Press

The New York Mets avoided an 0-4 start, thanks in large part to their newly appointed starting first baseman, and are now after their fourth straight win over the Cincinnati Reds.

With hopes of their otherwise quiet bats following Lucas Duda's lead, the Mets turn to starter Dillon Gee for the second time in five games Saturday at Citi Field.

Duda was named the starting first baseman prior to Friday's 4-3 win over the Reds (1-3), and he made good on the new title by hitting a pair of two-run homers. Duda had been 0 for 6 before the 2-for-3 night.

Manager Terry Collins said things could still change, but he wants there to be some order in the clubhouse.

"I just didn't think it was fair to anybody coming to the ballpark every day not knowing what their role is," Collins told the team's official website. "We want to see if Lucas Duda can be the first baseman. If he doesn't do it or we think he maybe doesn't play it the way we want it played, then he becomes a guy that can perhaps go to other positions. So we'll just see how it works out."

New York (1-3) is batting .184 and leaning heavily on the long ball with five homers accounting for 10 of its 14 runs.

Johnny Cueto (0-1, 1.29 ERA) will be charged with keeping those bats quiet, as he's done recently against the Mets. Cueto is 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA in three starts over the last two seasons versus New York.

His strong opening-day start went to waste in a 1-0 loss to St. Louis. After returning from the disabled list in September for two solid regular-season starts and a forgettable playoff outing, Cueto allowed a run and three hits while striking out eight in seven innings Monday.

Duda enters Day 2 of his assignment at 3 for 8 with a home run against Cueto.

"I'm just glad to play and contribute any way I can," Duda said. "It's just one day."

Gee (0-0, 5.40) has been bumped to the top of the Mets' rotation with Jonathon Niese's first start of the season pushed back until Sunday due to elbow soreness.

The right-hander put in six strong innings Monday against Washington but slipped up in the seventh in a 9-7 home loss. He went 6 2-3, yielding four runs while striking out five.

Gee didn't face the Reds last year and is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in one start against them.

After falling behind 4-1 on Friday, Jay Bruce connected on a two-run homer in the seventh to get the Reds within a run. Bruce has four hits in his last two games after starting 0 for 7. Like Duda, Bruce drove in all of his team's runs.

"It was the Lucas Duda-Jay Bruce show, and Duda won," Cincinnati starter Mike Leake said.

Reds manager Bryan Price sat center fielder Billy Hamilton and shortstop Zack Cozart after they went a combined 0 for 23 in the first three games.

Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy went 2 for 4 and is 10 for his last 24 against the Reds.

A Mets win would even the all-time series in New York at 147-all.

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