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NYM@PHI: Colon fans five, allows two runs over seven

They are a combined 79 years of age, yet they remain two of the best pitchers in baseball, and on Saturday they will meet under the lights at AT&T Park.

Bartolo Colon and Tim Hudson will start for the Mets and Giants, respectively, pitting two of the game's oldest and most effective starting pitchers against each other.

Colon and Hudson go about their work in different ways, with Colon incorporating a slider into his otherwise fastball-heavy arsenal and Hudson relying, as always, on his nasty sinker. But they both see results.

Colon, 41, has rebounded from a rough beginning to the season to post a 1.61 ERA over his last three starts, striking out 19 and walking five in 22 1/3 innings. He knows the Bay Area well, having spent the 2012-13 campaigns in Oakland before signing a two-year, $20 million contract with the Mets this winter.

Perhaps that familiarity will help Colon, who has a 2.30 ERA at home this season but a 5.89 mark on the road.

"I just feel good when I'm at home," Colon said. "Now I've just got to get ready to pitch well on the road as well."

Hudson, 38, broke into the big leagues in 1999, two years after Colon. He has a 17-10 record and 3.49 ERA in 30 career starts against New York, winning more games against the Mets than anyone else thanks to his nine seasons in Atlanta.

This year he has been as brilliant as ever, winning six of his first eight decisions with a league-leading 1.75 ERA in 11 starts.

Ask him to explain his success -- aside from his age, he's coming off a serious injury to his right ankle, sustained while covering first base against the Mets last July 24 -- and he'll probably react modestly.

"Smoke and mirrors," Hudson has said.

But his effectiveness against the Mets is more than that.

Twenty-one of Hudson's 30 career appearances against New York were quality starts. He pitched 14 innings against the Mets in 2005 before ever allowing a run, and beat them four times in five starts before they handed him a loss. More than just ancient history is on Hudson's side, too; he has yielded three earned runs or fewer in seven of his previous nine outings against New York.

Hudson has sustained his career-long excellence since joining the Giants in what may become one of last offseason's best free-agent acquisitions. San Francisco is 8-2 in games started by Hudson, who has struck out 50 while walking just eight. And according to STATS LLC, he's the third pitcher to record a sub-2.00 ERA in his first 11 starts for the Giants since the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958. The others were Mike Caldwell in 1974 (1.93 ERA) and Ryan Vogelsong in 2011 (1.99).

"He works quick, he keeps the ball down, changes speed so well," Giants catcher Buster Posey said. "You feel really good every time he's out there."

Mets: Gee sets out on the road to recovery
Starting pitcher Dillon Gee, who has been on the disabled list since May 10 with an injury that was originally supposed to cost him only two starts, began throwing off flat ground earlier this week in Florida. He had not attempted to throw since the final week of May, when he aggravated his strained right lat.

The Mets have not set a timetable for Gee, who is still weeks from a return -- but at least this is a start. Gee will need to throw multiple times off a mound before the Mets clear him to pitch in Minor League rehab games, and he must appear in more than one of those before ultimately returning to the Majors.

The Mets can afford to have Gee take his time, however, because their starting pitching has only taken a small hit in his absence. Rookie Jacob deGrom has developed into a bona fide rotation member, and Zack Wheeler has blossomed before Collins' eyes.

"I've been very happy," Collins said of his rotation. "I'm very pleased with the way they've all gone about it. All of them, I think, they compete against each other a little bit. For sure, they have stepped up."

Giants: Huff down, but not necessarily out
The Giants dropped left-hander David Huff from their pitching staff on Friday with the hope that his absence will be only temporary. The team designated Huff for assignment to clear room on the roster for right-hander Matt Cain, who started the series opener against the Mets.

The move left San Francisco with a 12-man pitching staff and a five-man bench, giving manager Bruce Bochy the type of personnel flexibility that he hasn't always enjoyed this season. Had the Giants retained Huff, they almost certainly would have optioned outfielder Juan Perez back to Triple-A Fresno, which would have forced Bochy to operate with an undermanned bench. The right-handed-hitting Perez started in left field on Friday against Mets lefty Jon Niese.

Nevertheless, Bochy expressed hope that Huff will clear waivers, which will enable the Giants to re-sign him. In that event, Bochy said, Huff likely would join Fresno's rotation.

Worth noting
• X-Rays and a CT scan came back negative on the left, non-throwing shoulder of Mets top prospect Noah Syndergaard after Syndergaard injured the joint on a play at the plate in the first inning Thursday game at Triple-A Las Vegas. Doctors diagnosed Syndergaard with a sprained A/C joint in the shoulder, recommending that he refrain from throwing for five to seven days.

• Mets outfielder Eric Young suffered a setback this week while rehabbing from his strained right hamstring in Florida, and he will not come off the DL on Tuesday when eligible.

• Cain took a no-hitter into the sixth inning on Friday before settling for a no-decision.

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