New York (50-51) at Cincinnati (50-51)

Fair Currently: Cincinnati, OH
Temp: 77° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Mon Jul 25, 2011
  • TV: SNY, FSOH
Preview | Box Score | Recap

David Wright’s(notes) return to the New York Mets lineup after an extended injury absence has largely been positive. He may need to continue providing similar production if his team is to make an unlikely playoff push.

The hot-hitting Wright leads the Mets into Cincinnati on Monday night for the first of four games with the Reds, who are in a crowded battle for the NL Central lead.

Wright was sidelined for more than two months with a stress fracture in his back, and New York went 30-28 without him. He returned Friday in the opener of a weekend series with Florida and produced immediately, though the Mets dropped two of three.

Wright batted .429 (6 for 14), hit his seventh homer in a 5-4 loss Sunday and had two RBIs in each contest. He appeared rusty at third base, committing errors in the first two games.

“It has taken a little while to get up to speed, and I don’t have my legs back quite yet,” Wright said. “But that will come from playing more.”

Visiting Cincinnati’s riverfront venue could help.

Of the six NL Central stadiums, Wright seems to enjoy playing at Great American Ball Park the most. The five-time All-Star has six homers and is hitting .343 there - his highest totals when visiting a Central opponent.

New York has dropped five of seven on the road, but has won seven of 11 in Cincinnati.

The Reds are looking for their first three-game winning streak since sweeping the Dodgers from June 13-15 in Los Angeles. They haven’t won three in a row at home since a season-best seven-game run May 4-17.

Drew Stubbs’(notes) homer on the first pitch from Scott Linebrink(notes) in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday lifted Cincinnati past Atlanta 5-4.

“We know we haven’t been playing our best baseball, but we definitely have the pieces of the puzzle to make a run,” Stubbs said. “It’s going to be a dogfight. Nobody’s running away with it. I think we can stay right we’re at and make a run at it.”

Cincinnati and New York are 50-51, records that put both clubs on the fringes of the wild-card race. The Reds, though, are also in a tight four-team battle for the top spot in the West, while the Mets would have to overcome a sizable deficit and numerous other teams to earn the wild card.

Coming off a hard-luck loss in his first game following the All-Star break, Mike Leake(notes) (8-5, 4.11 ERA) gets the start for Cincinnati.

The right-hander surrendered a first-inning run on a groundout and two hits over six, but the Reds fell 1-0 to Pittsburgh for their second straight shutout loss.

“I’m the type of pitcher that likes pitching in close games. It makes me focus more. But, I mean, we’d love to get run support,” Leake told the Reds’ official website.

Leake tops the NL with an average of 6.88 runs of support, trailing only Boston’s Jon Lester(notes) (7.32) for the major league lead. In his only career start versus the Mets on May 3, 2010, Leake pitched six innings and gave up one earned run in a 3-2 home victory, though he didn’t get the decision.

The Mets will go with R.A. Dickey(notes) (4-8, 3.80), making his first career appearance against Cincinnati.

The right-hander has been average in his last two starts, allowing four runs each time while pitching 13 1-3 total innings. He went 6 1-3 innings in a 6-5, 10-inning win over St. Louis on Wednesday.

The only current Reds player with any notable history against Dickey is Scott Rolen(notes), who’s 5 for 9 with a homer off the knuckleballer.

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Starting Pitchers

R. Dickey Tor vs. M. Leake SF
8-13 Record 12-9
3.28 ERA 3.86
134 K 118
54 BB 38
1.23 WHIP 1.17

Scoreboard

Monday, Jul 25