ATL@NYM: Gee goes seven scoreless, flirts with no-no

WASHINGTON -- Dillon Gee took the ball for the Mets' series opener against the Nationals on Friday, his 27th start of the season. The right-hander made his first start on April 4 and has made his turn in the rotation every time.

That makes him stand out in the Mets' 2013 rotation.

Johan Santana had season-ending surgery before throwing a pitch in the regular season. Shaun Marcum began the year on the disabled list, went back on in July and later was released. Jon Niese missed more than a month. Jenrry Mejia made five starts before hitting the DL with a bone spur in his right elbow. Jeremy Hefner had Tommy John surgery this week, and Matt Harvey is trying to avoid the same fate.

The Mets have used 11 different starters, leaving manager Terry Collins to call Gee "a huge savior" for the club, thanks to his consistent presence in the rotation.

"I don't think there's a manager who'd ever say, 'Gee, I think we're gonna lose all five of our starters coming into the season.' Or, 'I think we're gonna lose four of the five of them,'" Collins said. "The only thing you worry about is, 'Hey, do I have a couple guys backing up, because there's a good chance we might lose somebody.'

"Again, the best pitching staff's the healthiest pitching staff. It's not always the most talented. Because when those pitching staffs get hurt and guys are going down and you're always trying to fill in and find a guy to give you an inning or a start -- spot start here and call up a guy, pull a guy out of the bullpen -- it disrupts the unity of the pitching staff. So the more consistent you can be about running those guys out there every five days, it gives you a chance to win."

Brown playing every day as Mets ride hot bat

PHI@NYM: Mets add to lead on Brown's solo home run

WASHINGTON -- Mets outfielder Andrew Brown made his fifth consecutive start in Friday's series opener against the Nationals, as his hot bat has earned him regular playing time in the wake of Marlon Byrd's trade to Pittsburgh.

In his last 12 games entering Friday, including seven starts, Brown has gone 13-for-34 (.382) with three doubles, two home runs and 10 RBIs. In 109 plate appearances for the Mets, he has posted a batting line of .280/.327/.480 with five homers and 18 RBIs. Brown has hit left-handers for an .847 OPS but has a .764 mark against righties.

"We know he's got a chance to hit," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "When we first brought him up, I got a report that said, because he's had a history of hitting lefties ... 'Don't be afraid to leave him in there against righties, because he can hit righties also.' So right now, he's swinging the bat great, he's driving in runs, it's still important to score, so we're gonna leave him where he's hitting and try to get him in as many games as we can."

Brown will not necessarily play every day for the remainder of the season. Rookie Matt den Dekker, recently called up from Triple-A Las Vegas, is a left-handed hitter who figures to take some starts in right field. He also could play center, with Juan Lagares moving to right. Collins said he wants to get both of those players in the outfield at the same time.

But for now, Collins wants to ride the hot hand.

"Since Marlon's gone, [Brown has] been getting to play regular, but he was swinging good before he got in the lineup as an everyday guy," Collins said. "When Marlon left, because he had driven in some runs off the bench, I just said, 'I'm gonna put him in there, because right now, he's got the knack for driving a run in.'"

Brown, who will turn 29 on Sept. 10, has not enjoyed many opportunities for regular big league playing time. He has logged 257 plate appearances over parts of the last three seasons with the Cardinals, Rockies and Mets.

Mets piling up the outfield assists

ATL@NYM: Lagares' throw home saves a run, ends first

WASHINGTON -- Running on the Mets' outfield has been a perilous exercise for opposing baserunners this season.

Entering Friday, New York has racked up 29 outfield assists, its most since it picked up 34 in 2010. The club ranks fourth in the Majors and second in the National League, behind only the D-backs. That's a vast improvement over last season, when its 18 outfield assists tied for the second-lowest mark in the Majors.

"I guess I need to tip my hat to the outfield coach [Tom Goodwin] for the job he's done to keep them working on the little things all year long, no matter who's been out there," Mets manager Terry Collins said.

While the Mets don't take infield before games, they do practice throwing to the bases.

"So I credit Tom for making sure that each week, especially every homestand, that we do the little things, and that's trying to work on our accuracy, our throwing accuracy," Collins said. "And again, we've been lucky. We've got guys that have good arms, too."

Collins mentioned the since-traded Marlon Byrd (seven assists) and Juan Lagares, whose 11 assists are tied for the NL lead. They also put him one short of tying Tsuyoshi Shinjo's rookie franchise record, set in 2001.

Collins said that he has noticed teams running less on the Mets' outfield of late, and especially on Lagares.

Worth noting

• Collins said it's possible that third baseman David Wright could serve as the designated hitter in a Minor League game early next week as he rehabs his strained right hamstring. Wright left for the Mets' complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla., on Thursday, but the Mets' Class A affiliate there has its final game of the season on Monday.

"We're hoping that this weekend he thinks he's good enough to DH on Monday maybe, but that would be lucky," Collins said.

• According to Collins, shortstop Ruben Tejada is "going to play quite a bit," when he returns to the Mets from Triple-A Las Vegas. Tejada, who last played for the Mets on May 29, will return after rosters expand on Sunday, but Collins didn't say exactly when that will happen.

• Nationals manager Davey Johnson confirmed that right-hander Ross Ohlendorf will start Sunday's series finale against the Mets.