NEW YORK -- So many times in his last few starts, the thoughts would enter Dillon Gee's head, attacking the New York Mets starter shortly before opposing hitters would do the same.
His mechanics were flawed, he would think, and so his thought process would be, too, with the whole mess eventually leaving him feeling "lost" on the mound.
But Gee got the break he needed to give himself one in the first inning of the Mets' 6-1 win over the San Diego Padres on Friday night.
Left fielder Mike Baxter made a leaping catch against the wall and turned it into a double play to keep the Padres from a big first inning. When Gee returned to the dugout only down 1-0, pitching coach Dan Warthen told him to "slow down."
Gee's mind eventually eased and his performance showed the result, as he struck out a career-high nine and allowed just one run on four hits in seven innings.
He even added a double and scored a run, driven in by Baxter's double. Along with Lucas Duda's first home run since April 28 and a two-run single for slumping first baseman Ike Davis, it added up to a big confidence boost for several Mets looking to get on track.
For Gee, it felt especially good to find a groove after allowing 14 runs in his last three starts.
"The last couple of weeks have been tough for me," Gee said, adding he had been thinking too much about his mechanics. "When you do that, it makes you even more lost. When I started settling down, I wasn't thinking about all that stuff. My mind wasn't cluttered with thoughts."
The Mets provided enough offensive support, putting the loss on Anthony Bass (2-5), who allowed six runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings.
"I thought his stuff was fine," Padres manager Bud Black said. "When he got stressed, he just left a ball on the corner and the Mets took advantage of it. He pitched in hitters' spots for the Mets."
Gee (4-3) eventually shut down the Padres by going to more breaking balls in the middle innings and mixed his pitches well enough for Mets manager Terry Collins to say, "when he does that, he's as good as anybody in the league."
But he was first helped by Baxter, the sparkplug outfielder who has forced his way into the lineup with his surprising bat, but made a spectacular leaping catch against the wall to rob Jesus Guzman of an extra-base hit in the first inning.
Guzman sent the ball to the warning track with runners on first and third with one out, but Baxter said he got a "decent break on it." He then was "able to find the wall" in his line of vision as he tracked the ball, which helped as he made his leap, Baxter said.
After making the catch, he saw third baseman David Wright getting "kind of loud with his arms," gesturing him to fire the ball in, which Baxter did to shortstop Ronny Cedeno. Cedeno then fired to first, doubling up Yonder Alonso to end the inning.
" 'Great play,' " Gee remembered telling Baxter as he gave him a high-five on their way off the field. " 'Thanks a lot for getting me out of that inning.' "
Duda tied the game in the second with his fifth homer of the season and first in 77 at-bats. It came after Collins had said before the game he had "no reason" to be concerned with Duda's lack of power so far this year.
The Mets took the lead in the third, when Gee doubled with one out for his first hit of the season, and Baxter drove him in for a 2-1 lead. Kirk Neuwenhuis then singled in Baxter to put the Mets up by two.
"That's another thing that was getting under my skin," Gee said of entering the game without a hit. He added that base running was not exactly his strength due to the lack of practice. "Man, it beat me down. I was so tired. I came in the dugout and I was just gasping for air."
But overall, the Mets were able to breathe easy, scoring three more runs in the fifth, with two coming on a single by Davis.
It was the second game in a row in which Davis had at least one hit after starting the season with a .159 average. Both games came after Collins told Davis he would not be sent to the minors.
"Obviously, I feel a little better the last two days," Davis said. "It's just nice to contribute. I'm a lot better player than I've showed, so it's just what I'm supposed to do."
NOTES: Mets right-hander Jack Egbert was called up from Class AAA Buffalo, replacing lefty Robert Carson, who was sent to Class AA Binghamton (N.Y.), in the bullpen. Carson gave up two runs on three hits Thursday night in two innings. Egbert was 2-3 with a 2.08 ERA for Buffalo. ... Shortstop Ruben Tejada (strained right quad) had a base running session that was "just so-so" Friday, Collins said. Collins said the session wasn't "a setback, it just wasn't a big step forward." ... Right-hander Jeremy Hefner will get another start in the rotation after struggling Thursday night following a one-hour, eight-minute rain delay. ... Right-hander Chris Young (right shoulder surgery) pitched 6 1/3 innings of three-run ball in a rehab appearance for Class A Port St. Lucie (Fla.), but Collins said his chance to be a factor for the Mets was "down the road a bit." ... Padres right-hander Huston Street (strained right shoulder), who went on the disabled list early this month, "is feeling much better," said Black, who added the pitcher would throw Friday with "more intensity and length." ... Left-hander Eric Stults, who was struck by a batted ball on his left triceps Thursday, should be on track for his next start, Black said.