Mets morning briefing 9.6.12

R.A. Dickey notched his 18th win, which is now tied with Washington's Gio Gonzalez for the major league lead, and Ike Davis belted a three-homer as the Mets beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-2, Wednesday afternoon at Busch Stadium.

Dickey is now two wins shy of becoming the Mets' first 20-game winner since Frank Viola in 1990.

Davis' 26 homers are tied for fifth most in franchise history by a first baseman, trailing only Carlos Delgado (38 in 2008 and 2006), Dave Kingman (37 in 1982) and Eddie Murray (27 in 1993). Mo Vaughn also had 26, in 2002.

The Mets now enjoy a day off before welcoming Chipper Jones and the Atlanta Braves to Citi Field for a weekend series. Jonathon Niese (10-8, 3.55 ERA) opposes southpaw Paul Maholm (11-9, 3.79) in the series opener.

The retiring Jones is making his final trip to Queens as a player. Jones has 49 homers -- tied with Mike Schmidt for second most all time against the Mets, trailing only Willie Stargell's 60. Chipper's 158 RBIs against the Mets trail only Stargell's 182 and Schmidt's 162.

Also on the homestand, Stephen Strasburg makes his final scheduled start of the season on Wednesday. He then is due to be shut down due to an innings limit.

Thursday's news reports:

Adam Rubin

Fred Wilpon's Mets will lose $23 million this season, according to the Post.

• The Mets are expected to lose $23 million this season, Josh Kosman reports in the Post. Sandy Alderson has identified last year's loss as $60 million, but the Mets' payroll was slashed roughly $50 million during the past offseason, helping to close that deficit despite lower attendance in 2012.

• The Mets completed their road trip to Philadelphia, Miami and St. Louis with a 6-3 record. They trail Philadelphia (66-71) by a game for third place in the division, but the Mets (65-72) have opened a five-game lead on the Marlins (60-77) for fourth place. Read game recaps in the Post, Star-Ledger, Record, Times, Daily News and Newsday.

• Of Davis' 26 homers, a National League-high 19 have come on the road. San Diego's Chase Headley and Miami's Giancarlo Stanton, who both play in spacious home ballparks, are tied for second in the league in road homers with 17 apiece. Writes Brian Costa in the Journal:

For those who missed the eminently forgettable Mets teams of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Kingman was the ultimate all-or-nothing player. He struck out often and didn't reach base at a high rate, but when he did hit the ball, it left in a hurry. Davis's .299 on-base percentage is the lowest among players with 25 or more home runs this season. And his value, at least by one measure, is also the lowest among such players. According to FanGraphs, Davis has been worth just 0.7 wins more than a replacement-level player. But given where Davis started the year, the Mets are not about to complain. His defense has always been an asset. And now, he has a good chance to hit 30 home runs. "There's a lot of guys who are very productive that don't have high batting averages or a high on-base [percentage], but they're driving in 110 runs and they're hitting 30 homers," manager Terry Collins said. "There's other pieces to the puzzle, and that's certainly a big piece."

Read more on Davis in the Post, Newsday and Star-Ledger.

• No surprise, but Terry Collins told reporters in St. Louis that Dillon Gee is assured a rotation spot next season assuming he is healthy, which is expected to be the case following surgery to repair a damaged artery.

• Collins observed that Ruben Tejada, who struck out in all four of his at-bats and committed his 10th errror Wednesday, appears gassed and likely will get more time off as the Mets return home. Tejada is hitting .175 (7-for-40) with 10 strikeouts in his past 11 games. Collins had wanted Tejada to train at the Mets' complex last offseason to build up his strength for a long season. Tejada plans to comply this offseason. Read more in the Record.

Dale Zanine/US Presswire

Chipper Jones makes his final visit to Citi Field as a player this weekend.

• The Braves have scheduled a pregame news conference Friday for Chipper to discuss his final visit to Citi Field as a player, but the Mets remain mum on their plans to recognize him this weekend. (They're expected to do something, since other major league teams have shown a video and presented a gift.) Fittingly, Jones' final home series is against the Mets, from Sept. 28-30. The Braves are planning a pregame ceremony before the Friday night game at Turner Field in three weeks.

• On the final day of the regular season, Brooklyn qualified for the playoffs before taking the field thanks to Batavia's loss in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Jamestown. The wild-card-entrant Cyclones open the New York-Penn League playoffs on Friday night at Coney Island against the Hudson Valley Renegades. Meanwhile, St. Lucie forced a winner-take-all Game 3 today by beating Jupiter, 2-1, Wednesday. Jacob deGrom tossed six scoreless innings. Read the full minor league recap here.

• The Mets will honor Binghamton infielder Wilmer Flores and St. Lucie right-hander Rafael Montero as the organization's player and pitcher of the year in a pregame ceremony Saturday at Citi Field. Also scheduled to be on hand will be the top performer for each affiliate: Matt Harvey, Buffalo; Zack Wheeler, Binghamton; Alonzo Harris Jr., St. Lucie; Michael Fulmer, Savannah; Hansel Robles, Brooklyn; Miller Diaz, Kingsport; Yoryi Nuez, Dominican Summer League 1; and Vincente Lupo, Dominican Summer League 2.

• Major League Baseball suspended Mets farmhand Hengelbert Rojas for 50 games for a positive test for a performance-enhancing drug. Rojas, 18, played in the Dominican Summer League.

TRIVIA: How many homers did Davis hit in 58 games as a Brooklyn Cyclone in 2008, in his first pro season after being drafted in the first round that June?

Wednesday's answer: Behind Chipper, Ryan Howard has the second-most homers against the Mets among active players, with 32.