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DET@NYM: Dirks' two-run jack gives Tigers a lead

NEW YORK -- In two of their three games this weekend at Citi Field, the Tigers opposed two of the Mets' top starters. On Saturday, Detroit turned Matt Harvey into a hittable pitcher for at least one day. Then on Sunday, the Tigers drew Dillon Gee, a pitcher who features a different style than Harvey and thrives on precision rather than velocity.

"I really think that the matchup yesterday really got the hitters pumped up, because they knew it could be a real tough day," manager Jim Leyland said. "I thought it really -- not to say that they don't concentrate other times -- but I think they really locked in with their concentration and I think it carried over to today."

Just as it did against Harvey, Detroit jumped on Gee early to continue its hot hitting in an 11-3 win over the Mets to complete a three-game sweep. While they took a one-run lead into the ninth inning, the Tigers broke the game open against LaTroy Hawkins and Scott Atchison to turn the game into a blowout. Eight straight batters reached in the frame, including seven on singles.

Despite the victory, the Tigers couldn't pick up any ground on Cleveland in the American League Central, as the Indians beat the Twins on Sunday to remain six games behind Detroit.

Gee allowed a season-high tying 10 hits to the Tigers, one day after Harvey gave up a career high of 13. Overall, Detroit had 15 hits Saturday and 18 on Sunday. The last team to have consecutive 15-hit games against the Mets in New York was Montreal in 1986.

"You're talking about Matt Harvey -- he's one of the best pitchers in the game, and we were able to get two runs off of him," Torii Hunter said. "Gee is no slouch, either. I think he knows how to pitch. He has a clue of what's going on up there."

While Rick Porcello wasn't quite as stifling as Doug Fister and Max Scherzer in the previous two games, he pitched well enough to limit the Mets. The right-hander allowed three runs on four hits over seven innings. He walked three batters while striking out four.

The Tigers gave him immediate run support.

In the first inning, Miguel Cabrera slugged a 2-0 pitch from Gee into the second deck in left field for a two-run home run to give the Tigers a quick 2-0 lead. It was Cabrera's 42nd home run of the season.

"You can't get them out the same way twice. You have to keep trying to mix and match, and keep them guessing," Gee said. "It helps when you can command, too, and you're not behind a lot. I feel like I was behind a lot of guys, wasn't throwing any of the off-speed stuff for strikes, and it makes it tough facing a team like that."

The Mets scored their first run in the third inning, when Daniel Murphy hit an RBI single to cut Detroit's lead to 2-1.

In the bottom of the fourth, Porcello gave up a two-run home run to Travis d'Arnaud -- his first Major League homer -- that gave the Mets a 3-2 lead.

Both of those innings began with Porcello giving up leadoff walks. The New Jersey native, who had family, friends and former coaches in the stands at Citi Field, said that was something that bothered him.

"Really frustrating. I want to make them hit the ball and put the ball in play," Porcello said. "They get a hit, then they earned it. But giving them free passes is something I look at myself tonight, and the runs I gave up were a result of walking guys."

But the Mets' lead turned out to be brief.

Victor Martinez, who was Detroit's starting catcher for the second time in three games, led off the sixth inning with a single. Andy Dirks then turned around an 0-1 offering from Gee, hitting it over the right-field wall to push the Tigers back ahead, 4-3.

That's how the score would stay until the Tigers' big ninth. A one-run lead turned into an eight-run lead, punctuating a strong offensive series for Detroit.

"When it's clutch time, I think these guys are very professional," Hunter said. "They bear down and try to get some insurance runs, because no lead is safe until that last out."

For three games, the last two especially, the Tigers grinded out at-bats and put together huge performances at the plate. Leyland said the consistency of his entire lineup was as good as it's been all year.

Detroit saw two of the Mets' best starters, but looked anything but overmatched.

"I thought Gee was really good. He really knows how to pitch. He's not overpowering but he has a great feel for pitching," Leyland said. "I was very impressed with him, and of course, the kid yesterday.

"We were pretty fortunate."

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