ATLANTA -- A victory in a fill-in outing against the Braves in Atlanta on April 17 got Dillon Gee off to a 7-0 start, the right-hander not losing until late June.

Gee leads National League rookies with 12 wins, but the 25-year-old is 5-6 since his hot start and his ERA has risen to 4.37 going into Sunday's game against the Braves at Turner Field.

After posting a 6.49 ERA in August, Gee is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three September starts. The loss came against the Braves, although he allowed just two earned runs over six innings.

"He got off to a great start. The education he's getting now is what it takes to pitch here all year with all the innings you're going to run up," manager Terry Collins said. "He'll hit a wall. ... But he's pitched very good. ... I don't see any reason that he won't go out and pitch well Sunday."

With his 12 wins, Gee's is tied for sixth all-time among Mets rookies with Ron Darling, who notched 12 in 1984. Jerry Koosman won 19 games in 1968 and Dwight Gooden had 17 victories in 1984, the last time a Mets pitcher led National League rookies in victories.

Gee was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo for that April start when Chris Young was placed on the disabled list, and he arrived at Turner Field in a too-big suit borrowed from Mike Nickeas. Worse yet, he had to make up for his missing equipment by using a pair of Josh Thole's spikes and one of Bobby Parnell's gloves.

But he allowed just five hits and a run over 5 2/3 innings, and the Mets, who had started the year 1-11, snapped a seven-game losing streak.

That wasn't his Major League debut, as he went 2-2 with a 2.18 ERA in five starts last September, but he kept his rookie status by working only 33 innings.

Collins can't imagine Mets without Reyes

ATLANTA -- As he battles for a batting title, pending free agent Jose Reyes may be playing his last few games for the Mets. Former teammate Carlos Beltran, in fact, has already made a pitch for Reyes to join him in San Francisco.

"I don't blame them," manager Terry Collins said on Saturday when asked about Beltran's remarks and other teams' recruiting pitches for Reyes.

But it's clear that Collins hopes the Mets can re-sign the shortstop, saying that he couldn't imagine the team without Reyes or David Wright.

"You have to have your stars," he said.

Reyes improved his average to .334 after getting three hits in the Mets' 12-2 victory over the Braves on Friday night and stole a base. It was just his second swipe in the 17 games he's played since coming off the disabled list.

Collins praised how hard Reyes works and defended him against any false impressions.

"Sometimes it bothers me when people think, because of some of the things that he does, that he's a hot dog," Collins said. "Nobody has more fun playing the game than he does. ... That's why you find a different personality when his leg is bothering him and he can't be out there having fun."

Reyes has had two stints on the disabled list this season, and has experienced periodic tightness in his left hamstring since his most recent return. But he said that he "feels good" and reiterated that he wants to play all three games of the Braves series.

As for his future, Reyes remains noncommittal.

"We'll see what happens," Reyes said. "We'll find out soon."

Bay has fun with Gonzalez after amazing catch

ATLANTA -- Jason Bay's theft of Alex Gonzalez's home run in the fourth inning on Friday night was impressive, but the left fielder put the grab in perspective afterward. After all, one Mets over-the-fence catch set an especially high standard.

"That wasn't near Endy Chavez," said Bay, who has seen plenty of replays of Chavez's catch in the 2006 National League Championship Series against the Cardinals. "He was a little more athletic. I didn't exactly have the five-foot vertical. It was just one of those things where the timing was perfect and you get a decent wall you can do that on. Everything lined up. I wasn't even sure I held onto it at first."

Gonzalez got Bay back later. With the bases loaded, the shortstop fired from deep in the hole at to retire Bay at first for the final out of the top of the seventh inning.

"He smiled and pointed to left field after it, too," Bay said. "It didn't strike me at the time. I was just [angry] I didn't get a hit with the bases loaded. And then, as he's running by, he kind of grinned. I played with him in Boston, so I know him. He laughed and pointed to left and I go, 'Oh, I get it.'"

Bay, who has been bothered by a bad shoulder all year, could have used the extra hit. He went 1-for-5 with a walk in the 12-2 rout and took a .248 average into the middle game of the series on Saturday.

"Jason Bay has been frustrated all year long, but never has he not gone out there and played the game right," manager Terry Collins said. "He always plays hard."

Johan to throw simulated game on Sunday

ATLANTA -- Johan Santana, who was unable to make it back to the Mets this season after his shoulder surgery, will throw a simulated game on Sunday in Florida, then pitch in the instructional league.

The left-hander made a start for Savannah in the first round of the Class A South Atlantic League playoffs but decided not to pitch in Thursday's championship round against Greensboro.

Santana may pitch in his native Venezuela this winter if he feels up to it, believing it will help get him ready for Spring Training. The Mets remain confident that the two-time American League Cy Young Award winner will be ready to go next season.

Santana went 11-9 with a 2.98 ERA in 29 starts in 2010 prior to the surgery and has two years and $55 million remaining on the six-year, $137.5 million contract he signed in 2008. Initial estimates pegged his return to the Mets for June or July, but various setbacks stalled his rehab throughout the summer.

Left-hander Jonathon Niese, on the disabled list since late August with an injury to his rib cage, also will not return this season. He went 11-11 with a 4.40 ERA.