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Valdespin's homer breaks up tough pitching in loss

Gee allows one run over four innings; Hawkins, Parnell toss scoreless frames

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Jordany Valdespin's seventh-inning home run off Jose Ortega provided some punch to a pitching duel, but Tyler Collins' tiebreaking home run in the bottom of the eighth sent the Tigers to their fourth straight victory with a 3-2 win over the Mets on Friday at Joker Marchant Stadium.

On a day when Max Scherzer and Luke Putkonen combined for 10 strikeouts over the first five innings, Dillon Gee's four innings of one-run ball along with scoreless innings from LaTroy Hawkins and Bobby Parnell kept the game close. Valdespin broke a 1-1 tie by sending a line drive off the right-field scoreboard for his second homer of the spring.

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Until then, Valdespin's feat on the day was being the only Met to put the ball in play against Scherzer, who struck out six of the 11 batters he faced to go with three walks over 2 2/3 hitless innings. Though Scherzer's fastball command wavered, he induced 10 swings and misses from Mets hitters with a mix of changeups, sliders and a curveball he has been tinkering with this spring.

Putkonen, who's trying to make the team as a long reliever, hit three Mets but struck out four others.

After Wilfredo Tovar's two-out error at shortstop allowed the Tigers to tie the game again in the bottom of the seventh, closer candidate Bruce Rondon stranded two runners with a fly out to fall in line for the win once Collins jumped a pitch from Cory Mazzoni and sent it to the batting cages beyond right field for his first homer of the spring.

Collins, an early surprise in camp after a solid season at Class A Lakeland last year, now leads the Tigers in hits for the spring.

Up next for the Mets: The Mets head back to Port St. Lucie, Fla., for a 1:10 p.m. ET game against the Astros on Saturday at Tradition Field, live on MLB.TV. Jeremy Hefner is scheduled for the start, and Bobby Parnell, who has inherited the role of closer while Frank Francisco battles elbow inflammation, will go back-to-back for the first time this spring. Relievers Brandon Lyon, Darin Gorski and Jeurys Familia are also on the pitching list. Alex White will start for Houston.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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