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BAL@NYM: Gee fans nine over 7 1/3 strong frames

Mets manager Terry Collins has no qualms with the way his team is playing nearly halfway through the season.

Although Monday marked a third straight loss for New York, the Mets had previously reeled off four straight wins and sit in second in the National League East behind the Nationals. But heading into Tuesday's game against Chicago, what Collins doesn't want to see is a letdown.

"We're going to a stretch where we're getting close to where we can take a good break and re-energize ourselves at the All-Star break," he said. "We've got to go in on a positive note, and that is, we've got to play well here the next 10 days. Just keep grinding it out. We are where we are, and I'm very happy with it. We are where we are because of the way we prepared."

The Cubs, however, are not in a favorable spot, sitting in last place in the National League Central. Before Monday's win, Chicago had dropped four straight games and six of the last eight.

But on Tuesday, the Cubs hope to have something to get excited about when 22-year-old Anthony Rizzo makes his first appearance with Chicago at first base. Rizzo -- the top prospect in the Cubs' organization -- is set to make his debut with the Cubs after batting .342 and hitting a Pacific Coast League-leading 23 home runs from Triple-A Iowa.

Chicago manager Dale Sveum said he has kept watch on Rizzo, who is expected to bat third or fourth, since February at Spring Training and throughout the Minor League season, and he's "seen plenty."

Tuesday is not Rizzo's first trip to the Majors, having played in 49 games for the Padres last year. He struggled, batting .141, but the Cubs hope to keep expectations in check so Rizzo can feel comfortable and continue to play well.

"I hope he comes up with no pressure and does his job and does what he did in Triple-A," Alfonso Soriano said. "That's what he has to do, is just play baseball."

Mets: Gee looks for eighth straight quality start
Although his 2-2 record might not support the idea, Mets right-hander Dillon Gee has been solid in his last seven outings, registering quality starts in each.

Gee, who hasn't surrendered more than three runs since May 15, will start against the Cubs on Tuesday, taking his 3-1 road record into Wrigley Field. He's faced the Cubs one other time in his career, a 7-4 win last season in which he allowed four runs in six innings.

• Mets reliever Justin Hampson made his first Major League appearance since 2008 on Monday against the Cubs, surrendering one hit and striking out a batter in one inning of work.

The left-hander was brought up from Triple-A Buffalo to bolster the Bullpen.

"It's definitely a privilege to be here," Hampson said. "It's not given. It's something that can easily never happen again. You've got to take advantage of it."

Cubs: Wells gets another start in place of Dempster
Chicago right-hander Randy Wells will get his second start in the place of the injured Ryan Dempster on Tuesday at Wrigley Field.

The first of likely three starts while Dempster is out did not go well for Wells, who gave up three runs in 3 2/3 innings in a 7-0 loss to the White Sox on June 20. After that outing, Wells said the four walks he surrendered were unacceptable, and he hoped to get another chance.

"I won't accept it," he said. "They shouldn't accept it. I don't know what's going to come after that. If I do get another one, it's time to go back to the drawing board and really focus on pounding fastballs down and away and get back to the basics, so to speak."

Worth noting
• Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro is one of just two NL players to start all of his team's games this season (73).

• Mets third baseman David Wright extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a 1-for-4 performance on Monday. He's batting .362 in that stretch with eight RBIs. Comments