Brewers-Mets Preview

The Associated Press

Many were taken aback when the New York Mets traded Francisco Rodriguez to the Milwaukee Brewers last season.

New York could be on the verge of making another change at closer given its recent inability to secure late leads.

The Mets return home Monday night hoping to get back on track in the first of two against a Brewers club looking to extend its winning streak at Citi Field to seven.

New York (19-15), which opened its trek with a three-game sweep of Philadelphia, concluded it with a 4-2 record after dropping two of three at Miami.

After failing to secure a 5-4, ninth-inning lead during Friday's 6-5 loss, closer Frank Francisco gave up three runs without recording an out as the Mets blew a 4-2, ninth-inning lead in Sunday's 8-4 defeat.

Francisco, who was visibly angry and ultimately ejected by home plate umpire Todd Tichenor, is 1-3 with an 8.56 ERA. He could be facing suspension for his actions as well as a demotion from his current role. Possible candidates to replace Francisco could include Jon Rauch or Bobby Parnell.

"I'm not going to address that right now," manager Terry Collins said. "The emotions are a little high tonight, and this is not a very good time to be making those kinds of decisions."

Winners of five of six on their own field, the Mets could have a hard time continuing their recent home success against the Brewers, who have surely enjoyed their last few visits to Flushing. Milwaukee has outscored New York 43-22 during its six-game road winning streak in the series.

Monday's scheduled starter Yovani Gallardo (2-3, 5.35 ERA) threw seven strong innings in the most recent of those victories, 6-2 on Aug. 21. Gallardo has experienced mixed results against the Mets over the course of his career, going 2-2 with a 3.47 ERA.

While Gallardo has compiled a 22.24 ERA in two starts against St. Louis this year, he's been pretty good against almost everyone else - posting a 2-1 record with a 2.45 ERA.

The right-hander earned his first win in almost a month during Tuesday's 8-3 victory over Cincinnati, striking out a season best-tying eight over six innings of two-run ball.

Taking the hill for New York is Miguel Batista (0-1, 5.89), who will be making his third start of the season. The veteran right-hander yielded four runs - two earned - and eight hits over 5 1-3 innings of Tuesday's 7-4 win at Philadelphia.

Batista is 1-0 with a 2.14 ERA over three career starts against Milwaukee, the most recent of which came July 14, 2006, while with Arizona.

Aramis Ramirez is 2 for 14 lifetime against Batista while Ryan Braun is 0 for 4.

Milwaukee (15-19) hits the road for a four-game trip after going 3-3 on its recently completed homestand. The Brewers won two straight over the Chicago Cubs before dropping Sunday's series finale 8-2.

Starter Marco Estrada gave up two runs before the bullpen allowed six over the final three innings. While the Brewers' rotation has compiled a 1.36 ERA over the last five games, their relievers own a 7.88 mark.

"I still have confidence those guys can do the job," manager Ron Roenicke said. "But they've got to get confident, too.

"We just can't let it get away from us like it did."

Rodriguez, who continues to set up closer John Axford, didn't pitch Sunday but hasn't been very sharp thus far. He's gone 0-3 with a 5.28 ERA, seven holds and a save in 17 relief appearances.

The Brewers will need to be wary of David Wright, who leads the NL with a .400 average. The third baseman is 3 for 14 with a homer and seven strikeouts versus Gallardo.

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