By RONALD BLUM | AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Dillon Gee finished off the New York Mets' most unexpected Subway Series sweep.
Gee struck out a career-high 12 and limited the Yankees to four hits over 7 1-3 innings Thursday night in a 3-1 win that gave the Mets a four-game season sweep of their older, more prestigious rival.
Marlon Byrd had a two-run, second-deck homer in the second off rookie Vidal Nuno (1-2), John Buck hit a slow-rolling RBI single off third base in the eighth and Gee made that stand up against the Yankees, who totaled just seven runs in the four games.
Since the start of interleague play in 1997, the only sweep had been by the Yankees, when they went 6-0 in 2003.
The Yankees began the week with a 54-36 record against their crosstown rival and led the AL East at 30-20. And the Mets, who had never won four straight over the Yankees, were fourth in the NL East at 18-29.
But the Mets played their best ball of the season and extended a winning streak to five for the first time since May 5-9 last year. And the Yankees have lost five in a row in a single season for the first time since a six-game slide from May 11-16, 2011.
Gee (3-6) had not pitched more than 6 1-3 innings since surgery last July to remove a blood clot from his pitching shoulder.
His control was the key. Using a sharp slider and a fastball in the upper 80s, he didn't go to three balls on a single batter and retired his final 15 in a row.
The Mets tied a franchise record by going three straight games without allowing a walk, the first time they've accomplished the feat since July 5-7, 1994, according to STATS. Yankees batters, usually patient, have gone three games without a free pass since June 12-14, 1991, when Kevin Maas was their cleanup hitter.
While Gee wasn't missing the plate, he was missing something: whiskers. Since he pitched against Altanta last weekend, Gee shaved off his beard and mustache.
He escaped two-on, no-outs trouble in both the first and second innings, and then allowed just one more runner — on Robinson Cano's one-out homer in the third, his 14th of the year. Gee and his bullpen then retired the Yankees' last 20 batters.
Scott Rice got the final two outs of the eighth, and Bobby Parnell finished the four-hitter for his ninth save in 11 chances.
Nuno, a 25-year-old left-hander, allowed two runs and three hits in six innings in his third big league start and fifth appearance. Nuno didn't allow a hit after Anthony Recker's double in the second and retired his final 10 batters. He appears likely to be sent back to the minor leagues when Andy Pettitte is activated from the disabled list on Monday to start against Cleveland.
Byrd's homer, his second in two nights, came on an up fastball following a leadoff walk by Lucas Duda. The Mets added a run in the eighth when Omar Quintanilla walked against Shawn Kelley leading off, advanced on a comebacker, took third on Joba Chamberlain's wild pitch and scored on Buck's slow roller — the Mets' first hit since the second.
The Yankees' patchwork starting lineup included just two players projected as starters when spring training began: center fielder Brett Gardner and Cano at second. The Yankees struck out 14 times and, in the eighth, Reid Brignac and Gardner turned around to question plate umpire Adrian Johnson following strikeouts.
Thirteen Yankees have made 14 trips to the disabled list that caused them to miss 507 roster days, according to STATS, but first baseman Mark Teixeira and third baseman Kevin Youklis are likely to be activated from the disabled list on Friday, ahead of a weekend series at home against AL East-leading Boston.
NOTES: The game drew 44,207, the second-lowest for a Subway Series game at new Yankees Stadium, ahead of only the 43,681 Wednesday. ... The Yankees lost their last four regular-season games in 2011 and their first three in 2012. ... The rivals played three games apiece in 1997 and '98, then six regular-season games a year through 2012. The Yankees brushed past the Mets 4-1 in the 2000 World Series for their third straight title. ... Chamberlain, back from a strained oblique, made his first appearance since April 27. .. Quintanilla was brought up from Triple-A to take the roster spot of Ruben Tejada, who went on the DL with a strained right quadriceps. Quintanilla flubbed his first chance, allowing David Adams' second-inning grounder to roll through his legs. ... The Mets said LHP Jonathon Niese will miss his turn Sunday against Miami because of shoulder tendinitis.