Arizona (29-21) at New York (31-19)

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  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Tue May 30, 2006
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Alay Soler gets another crack at his first major league victory when the New York Mets play the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday at Shea Stadium.

The 26-year-old rookie from Cuba, who’s trying to shore up the back end of the Mets’ rotation, didn’t earn a decision in his debut against Philadelphia last Wednesday. He gave up five hits and two earned runs in six innings and earned praise from manager Willie Randolph.

“He pitched a great ball game,” Randolph said. “After he settled in, he did pretty much what the scouting report said he would do. He mixed his pitches well. He seemed pretty polished for a guy first time in the big leagues. We’re really proud of him.”

Soler (0-0, 3.00 ERA) defected from Cuba in November 2003, signed with New York in August 2004 and was called up from Double-A Binghamton last week. His performance was enough for the Mets (31-19) to designate Jose Lima and Jeremi Gonzalez for assignment.

“We’re going to go with Soler in the rotation for now,” Mets GM Omar Minaya said. “This gives us some comfort zone and we’ll have to see how it works out.”

New York also acquired Orlando Hernandez from Arizona on Wednesday, which could provide even more comfort for Soler. Hernandez is also a Cuban defector, and knows the pressures of playing in New York, having spent seven years with the Yankees.

The Mets will be looking for their fourth straight victory after rallying for an 8-7 win over the Diamondbacks (29-21) in Monday’s series opener.

Jose Reyes had an RBI single that tied the game at 7 in the ninth inning before David Wright hit a bases-loaded single that scored Reyes to win the game for New York.

Wright has had game-ending RBIs four times this season.

“The big thing is to relax,” Wright said. “Don’t get caught up in the moment. You have to want to be up there with the game on the line.”

It was the second straight blown save for Arizona closer Jose Valverde, who surrendered a two-run homer to Javier Valentin in the Diamondbacks’ 5-4 loss to Cincinnati on Sunday.

“The last four times, he’s struggled,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s a guy who’s been good for us, real good for us.”

After winning five in a row, Arizona has lost consecutive games for the first time since May 12-13.

“We put ourselves in position to win,” Melvin said. “It didn’t work out. It was a great game. It ended in the wrong direction.”

The Diamondbacks hope Miguel Batista (4-2, 4.60) can get them back on track. The right-hander gave up seven hits and two earned runs in seven innings to beat Pittsburgh 8-7 last Wednesday.

He is 3-2 with a 3.25 ERA in 17 appearances against the Mets, although he hasn’t faced them since April 2003. Arizona is 7-3 when Batista takes the mound this season.

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Starting Pitchers

M. Batista COL vs. A. Soler HOU
11-8 Record 2-3
4.58 ERA 6.00
110 K 23
84 BB 21
1.53 WHIP 1.58