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ARI@ATL: Santana picks up win No. 7 in solid outing

Although the Mets are dealing with the absence of lefty Jon Niese due to a shoulder strain, they will compensate with the return of Dillon Gee on Wednesday night against the Braves. Gee returns after missing nearly two months with a right lat strain.

The injury was only supposed to sideline Gee for one start, but he suffered a setback in late May when he felt uncomfortable throwing. More than six weeks removed, Gee has a hard time believing his return took this long.

"No, man, it's dragged on forever. That's probably one of the most disheartening things is we go from it being maybe a couple-day and then a couple-week thing at first and then reaggravated it," Gee said. "I think it was worse the second time, it just kept dragging on and dragging on. Then we had to take it slow in the buildup phase. I never imagined it would be this long."

Although Gee admits he is anxious due to his long absence, his rehab outings with Class A Brooklyn were both pain free and successful. He gave up only two earned runs and struck out 16 compared to two walks in 8 2/3 innings.

"It's tough to say, but I was throwing things for strikes, and that's when I know things will play up here," Gee said of his effectiveness. "I feel like down in the lower levels, if you're throwing breaking balls but they're always balls, they'll swing at them, so you might not get a real good feel of how it will play up here. But as long as you're throwing them for strikes, that's the main difference of how it will play up here."

Gee's most recent start coincided with the beginning of a major slump for Braves right-hander Ervin Santana, who on May 10 was 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA. He recorded a 6.44 ERA in his next six starts, resulting in five Atlanta losses.

But he is seemingly turning things around, slowly but surely. He has notched four consecutive quality starts and five in his past six, a disastrous turn at hitter-friendly Coors Field on June 12 as the lone exception.

Santana's turnaround has a lot to do with the improving command of his slider, which he used to baffle the D-backs in 7 1/3 innings of two-run ball Friday.

"He has a good slider -- hard to see, hard to pick up. It has a real tight spin on it," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said after his club's second loss to Santana in 2014.

Braves: Outfield showing power-speed potential
• When Atlanta first brought together the outfield of Jason Heyward, B.J. Upton and Justin Upton, the power-speed possibilities had some fans thinking 20-20. Although the trio combined for 60 homers in 2013, they stole only 22 bases.

They may fall short in the power category again as Justin's 17 homers dwarf the combined 15 between B.J. and Heyward, but each speedster has picked up the pace on the basepaths.

B.J. Upton has swiped 15 bags, surpassing his mark of 12 last season, and Heyward owns 11, matching the second-highest total of his career. Justin Upton is not far behind as his seven are right behind his eight from 2013.

Mets: d'Arnaud getting on base
• Although Travis d'Arnaud couldn't throw out B.J. Upton and Heyward on the basepaths Tuesday night, he reached base for the 12th straight game since returning from a stint with Triple-A Las Vegas.

d'Arnaud has hit safely in 11 of those games, batting .283 (13-for-46) with two home runs, eight RBIs and a .340 on-base percentage during the stretch.

Worth noting
• Justin Upton ranked third in the first update of the National League Final Vote ballot released Tuesday. Voting ends on Thursday at 4 p.m. ET.

• Four of Curtis Granderson's seven hits in 52 plate appearances against the Braves this season are homers -- all in the past 23 plate appearances.

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