Lastings Milledge is trying to establish himself as an everyday major leaguer in his second season. His performance of late shows that time may be drawing closer.
Milledge started slowly when he was called up from Double-A Binghamton on July 12, going 4-for-27 in his first seven games. Since then, however, he is 9-for-16 with a home run, five RBIs and five runs scored in his last four contests.
There were some questions about Milledge’s maturity when he came up with the Mets last year, but manager Willie Randolph said the 22-year-old is just enthusiastic.
“I’m not going to stop my guys from having a little fun but just respect the game,” Randolph said.
Originally slated to play left field, Milledge was shifted to center Wednesday when Carlos Beltran strained an abdominal muscle during batting practice and was scratched from the lineup.
“The way I feel right now, I’m 100 percent sure that I’m not going to be able to play tomorrow,” said Beltran, who got treatment on the injury during the game.
Glavine is expected to go for career win No. 300 on Tuesday night in Milwaukee.
“I guess once you get to that point where you feel like it’s achievable, then yeah, you want it,” Glavine said. “You want to do whatever you have to do to make it happen.”
The NL East-leading Mets (57-43), who have six four-game win streaks this season, are 17-6 against the Central. They have won five straight and nine of 11 home games against the Pirates (41-58).
New York’s Oliver Perez (9-6, 3.00 ERA) tries to win three straight starts for the second time this season. The left-hander was sharp in his second start since coming off the disabled list, yielding one run and six hits in 7 1-3 innings Friday in a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was the 11th time in 17 starts this season that he allowed fewer than three earned runs.
Perez, limiting batters to a .211 average - the second-best mark in the NL, is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in two career starts against his former team. Perez pitched for Pittsburgh from 2003-2006 before he was traded to the Mets last July 31 with Roberto Hernandez for Xavier Nady.
Jason Bay homered for the third time in two days for the Pirates, losers of 10 of 11 after heading into the break winning nine of 13. They have dropped six in a row on the road.
Bay is batting .389 (14-for-36) with five homers and 16 RBIs in his last nine games against the Mets.
Despite an ugly record, Paul Maholm (6-12, 4.57) has not pitched badly. Since losing five straight decisions from May 15-June 9, the left-hander is 4-3 with a 3.35 ERA in seven starts, pitching at least six innings in each outing. Maholm, one loss away from tying NL leader Kip Wells of St. Louis, has received two runs or fewer of support in six of his last 11 starts.
He limited Houston to two runs and eight hits over 6 2-3 innings in a 7-3 victory Saturday.
Maholm has pitched well in all three career starts against the Mets, going 2-1 with a 1.42 ERA, including two straight wins.