Mets 7, Marlins 1: Lucas Duda's day includes 5 RBIs

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Dillon Gee may end up the fifth starter, but Rafael Montero gave the organization’s dissenters plenty of ammunition to lobby otherwise.

Montero retired the first nine Miami Marlins batters he faced and ultimately tossed six scoreless innings in the New York Mets’ 7-1 win on Monday at Tradition Field.

Lucas Duda and Michael Cuddyer homered against Marlins right-hander Dan Haren. Duda finished with five RBIs. The Mets (17-11) now have a Grapefruit League-best 37 long balls.

Jenrry Mejia’s struggles continued, though. He allowed a ninth-inning run on two walks and a hit.

Montero did not surrender a hit until Dee Gordon’s leadoff double in the fourth. The right-hander faced two baserunners that inning after surrendering a two-out single to Michael Morse. Montero rallied by striking out Martin Prado.

Those were the only two hits Montero surrendered. He struck out six and walked none in a 69-pitch effort. He lowered his Grapefruit League ERA to 2.40 and has walked only two batters in 15 innings.

Montero should open the season in the bullpen, unless the Mets swiftly trade Gee, who is available. Still, manager Terry Collins has yet to officially name Gee the fifth starter, and a faction of front office personnel prefers Montero from the beginning of the season.

Duda day: Duda, slowed early in camp by an intercostal muscle strain on his left side, has started to heat up at an opportune time. After going 2-for-3 with five RBIs on Monday, Duda now has three straight multi-hit games.

“I’m feeling good at the plate,” Duda said. “I feel like my timing is getting back a little bit. Hopefully it’ll carry into the season. As far as the injury goes, I was kind of set back a little bit. But it feels great right now. My body feels great, and I’m excited for the season.”

What’s next: The Mets face the Washington Nationals for the final time before Opening Day. Jonathon Niese opposes left-hander Gio Gonzalez. Neither will pitch in the opening series. In a camaraderie-building exercise, the entire team will travel to Viera for Tuesday’s 1:05 p.m. ET game. Matt den Dekker, traded for left-hander Jerry Blevins, could make his Nats debut against his former club.