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PIT@SF: Hudson holds Bucs to three over seven in loss

Tim Hudson is no stranger to pitching in Queens, having taken to the Shea Stadium or Citi Field mound 15 times -- often with quite a bit of success -- during his nine-year tenure with the Braves. But when he does so again Monday afternoon for the first time with the Giants in the finale of a four-game set against righty Dillon Gee and the Mets, he might not want to remember the last time he was here.

It was July 24, 2013, and it was the last game of Hudson's season. Atlanta won handily, but the contest is better remembered for the gruesome ankle injury Hudson suffered when Eric Young Jr. stepped on it during a bang-bang play at first in the eighth inning.

Hudson had surgery and made a full recovery, of course, and he is enjoying a terrific season for San Francisco. He's 8-8 with a 2.71 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP while striking out more than four times as many batters as he's walked.

Hudson, a right-hander, has lasted at least six innings in each of his three starts since the All-Star Game, which was the fourth of his career and first since 2010. He most recently absorbed the tough-luck loss when he limited the Pirates to three runs over seven innings on Tuesday. Pittsburgh scored thrice before Hudson recorded his fourth out, but then he settled down over the next five frames.

His opponent Monday is Gee, who has slowly built up stamina since returning from a two-month stint on the disabled list in mid-July. His last time out -- a five-run, 6 2/3-inning effort against the Phillies -- would have looked a lot better if the three runners he left on base upon exiting didn't score on a Chase Utley grand slam.

The silver lining in the loss was that Gee exceeded 100 pitches for the first time since early May. Building up that arm strength is important, especially after the long layoff.

"That's going to strengthen up his arm, get some endurance in his arm. I thought he threw the ball very well," Mets manager Terry Collins said afterward. "His curveball was real good. His changeup was good when he needed it. ... I thought he pitched up, had some zip on his fastball when he wanted to go up."

A win would be significant for San Francisco, as it would be its third in four games against the Mets. The Giants arrived in New York having lost six of their previous seven games during a stretch that saw them fall into second place in the National League West behind the Dodgers.

Giants: Panik relaxed playing near home
For the last six weeks, Joe Panik has lived the life of a big leaguer, traveling to Phoenix, San Diego, Miami and Philadelphia during his first stint with the Giants. This weekend, the former first-round Draft pick came home.

Panik was born in Yonkers, N.Y. -- just a half-hour north of Citi Field -- and attended John Jay High School in Hopewell Junction before playing his college ball at St. John's University in Queens.

"I have a lot of friends and family, it's good seeing them up in the stands," said Panik, adding that he had about a dozen relatives watching over the weekend, most of whom couldn't be at his Major League debut in Arizona in June. "There's been a lot of support, which has been very nice."

Panik, who grew up a Yankees fan but made several trips to Shea Stadium as a kid, went 0-for-4 on Saturday, his lone action of the weekend.

Mets: Flores gets two straight starts
Aside from left field, shortstop is the Mets' only position with any sort of question mark over it, both so far this season and heading into 2015. Wilmer Flores did his best to make it a little more interesting over the weekend.

Flores, who has essentially split time with Ruben Tejada since returning to the Majors on July 24, drove in two big runs Saturday night, then got the start at second on Sunday, with the left-handed-hitting Daniel Murphy taking a seat against southpaw Madison Bumgarner. Flores walloped a double in the third for the Mets' first hit of the game and made a diving stop to rob Michael Morse of a base knock minutes later.

"I wanted to get Wilmer some playing time so you guys [the media] will stay calm," said Collins, who is regularly questioned about his shortstops' playing time. "I thought [Sunday] would be a good day for it."

Flores, 22, was raking for Triple-A Las Vegas before his most recent promotion, and one school of thought says he would be better off playing regularly at one level or another as opposed to sharing time in the Majors.

Worth noting
• The Mets have just one hit in the first five innings of the three games against the Giants this series.

• The Giants own the second-best road record in the National League (31-21). That is mere percentage points behind the Dodgers (34-23).

• The Mets are 5-1-1 in their last seven series. A win Monday would earn them another tie.

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