The Pittsburgh Pirates' postseason hopes have faded, and their chances of finishing with a winning record are dimming quickly.
The New York Mets' recent success at home doesn't bode well for the Pirates' chances, either.
Pittsburgh attempts to avoid an 11th defeat in 13 games at Citi Field on Tuesday night, while the Mets go for their longest winning streak there in over two years.
The Pirates (75-78) were a season-high 16 games over .500 and held one of the NL's two wild-card spots on Aug. 8. They've gone into a tailspin since, losing 31 of 43 to drop virtually out of postseason contention.
Now, finishing with a winning record for the first time since last reaching the playoffs in 1992 seems unlikely with nine games left in the season.
Pittsburgh fell for the sixth time in seven games Monday, losing 6-2 at New York (70-83) to open this four-game set.
"Unfortunately, the way we're going right now, this one backfired on us as well," manager Clint Hurdle said.
Beginning to reverse that stretch in Flushing seems unlikely since the Pirates are 2-10 in their last 12 games there thanks in part to the staff's 5.12 ERA - 7.34 from the bullpen.
New York is vying for its first five-game home winning streak since a nine-game run from May 22-June 8, 2010. The team had been 4-25 with a nine-game slide at Citi Field leading up to the current streak.
Ike Davis will try to keep the Mets rolling with another strong effort at the plate after he had two homers with a career-high five RBIs in the series opener.
The first baseman leads New York with personal bests of 30 homers and 88 RBIs, but he has a .227 average.
"You got to look at Ike Davis and say, 'OK, he's legit,'" manager Terry Collins said. "You can write off the first half ... for whatever it was. The package is there."
Davis, though, is 0 for 5 against Wandy Rodriguez, the Pirates' scheduled starter.
Rodriguez (11-13, 3.76 ERA) has held the Mets to one run in seven innings over each of his last three starts against them, going 2-0.
The left-hander enters this meeting 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA in his last five starts, but the worst of those outings came in his most recent appearance. He was tagged for five runs and five hits in four innings Thursday against Milwaukee before leaving without a decision in a 9-7 loss.
The Mets are expected to counter with Collin McHugh (0-2, 3.86), who returns to the rotation after two relief appearances. The rookie right-hander allowed five runs - two earned - and five hits - three of them homers - in a 5-1 loss to Washington on Sept. 10.
McHugh has a 6.17 ERA in four games - two starts - since pitching seven innings of two-hit ball with a season-high nine strikeouts in a 1-0 win over Colorado in his major league debut Aug. 23.