The NL East-leading Mets (30-19) have won six in a row and 10 of 12 from the Diamondbacks (29-20), who sit atop the NL West. New York has outscored Arizona 69-31 in those games.
Steve Trachsel (2-4, 4.99 ERA) looks for his first win in more than a month when he takes the mound for the Mets, who have a 3 1/2 -game lead over second-place Atlanta.
Since beating San Francisco on April 25, Trachsel is 0-3 with a 6.66 ERA in five starts having allowed 19 runs and 34 hits in 25 2-3 innings. The right-hander, though, has only received eight runs of support in those games.
He last started Tuesday against Philadelphia, allowing six runs and seven hits through five innings but did not get the decision in the Mets’ 9-8 win in 16 innings. The right-hander was to start Sunday’s game against the Marlins, but had his start pushed back a day because of back spasms.
“This works out fine. I haven’t really changed any of my routine,” said Trachsel, who last faced the Diamondbacks on Aug. 15, 2004, and has not defeated them since May 1, 2002. He is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in three starts since.
Orlando Hernandez made the start—and his Mets debut—in place of Trachsel and limited the Marlins to three runs and five hits with three walks and seven strikeouts over seven innings in a 7-3 win. El Duque was acquired from Arizona on Wednesday for reliever Jorge Julio.
Carlos Beltran is hoping to continue his hot hitting after he went 6-for-13 (.462) with a home run and five RBIs in the three-game series against Florida. The center fielder has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games, going 15-for-47 (.319) with five homers and 14 RBIs.
Arizona was poised to sweep a three-game series from Cincinnati and extend its winning streak to six games on Sunday. But closer Jose Valverde gave up a two-run homer to pinch-hitter Javier Valentin with two out in the ninth inning to send the Diamondbacks to a 5-4 loss.
“Every time we’ve faced (Valentin), he’s hit the first pitch, and he’s looking to pull it,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. “It was a (split-finger fastball) that Valentin hit. I don’t second-guess the pitch. I’m sure (Valverde) doesn’t feel great about the outcome.”
Arizona, which had posted shutouts in the first two games of the series, still holds a 1 1/2 -game lead over the second-place Los Angeles Dodgers and 3 1/2 over Colorado, San Diego and San Francisco.
Claudio Vargas (5-2, 4.93) will try to help the Diamondbacks bounce back. In his last appearance on Tuesday, the right-hander won for the first time in three starts be limiting Pittsburgh to two runs and five hits over six innings in a 7-3 win.
Vargas has struggled against the Mets, giving up 13 runs and 17 hits through 10 2-3 innings over four appearances including one start.
Left fielder Luis Gonzalez has not homered in 31 games since April 20. He has eight hits—including four homers—in 27 career at-bats against Trachsel.