After another clutch performance, Milledge looks to help the Mets win their first series of the month when they close a four-game set against the Cincinnati Reds at Shea Stadium on Sunday.
Milledge has gone 1-for-4 in each of New York’s three games since he joined the Mets (50-40) from Double-A Binghamton after the All-Star break. But his strong play in close games has been the key to both of the Mets’ victories in that stretch.
Milledge, who batted .241 in 56 games with the Mets in 2006 and went hitless in three at-bats in April, barely beat a tag at home plate to snap a 2-2 tie in the Mets’ 3-2 win over the Reds on Thursday.
On Saturday, he broke a 1-1 tie with an RBI single in the eighth inning, leading New York to a 2-1 victory.
“I’m not trying to carry the team because that’s not my position right now,” Milledge told the Mets’ official Web site. “My position is to give the team a little bit of spunk, and whatever I can give to the team is going to be good for it. I’m going to bring that. I’m going to bring excitement. I’m going to bring me.”
Saturday’s win ensured the Mets at least a split in the series against the Reds. New York also split a four-game set against Houston before the All-Star break, but hasn’t won a series since taking three of four against Philadelphia June 29-July 1. The Mets are 4-7 this month, and their lead over Atlanta in the NL East has shrunk to 1 1/2 games.
The Reds (37-54) entered this series with a season-high four straight wins, but have managed only six hits in their two losses. They were held to two hits in Saturday’s defeat - their sixth in their last eight road games.
They hope to rebound behind Kyle Lohse (5-10, 4.47 ERA), who takes the mound in search of his third straight win.
The right-hander has allowed only two runs in 16 innings spanning his last two starts, including a complete-game victory over Arizona on July 6. Lohse held the Diamondbacks to four hits in the 8-1 win.
He hasn’t won more than two consecutive starts since a four-start win streak in August 2003, when he pitched for Minnesota.
“I’m just out there trying to do the same thing every time. Sometimes, it works. Sometimes, it doesn’t,” Lohse said. “I need to worry about just making pitches and not worry about the results.”
Lohse, who didn’t get a decision in his one career start against the Mets in 2004, is 2-7 with a 6.28 ERA on the road, where he has won just once in his last eight starts.
Oliver Perez (7-6, 3.14) is expected to be activated from the disabled list to make his first start for the Mets since June 26. The left-hander has been sidelined by stiffness in his lower back since he held Minnesota to two runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings in New York’s 6-2 loss.
“No problem,” Perez said after a bullpen session on Thursday. “Everything’s good, and they’re happy for me because I’m ready to go.”
He is 6-3 with a 4.06 ERA in 14 career starts against the Reds, and has won six of his last seven decisions against them.