Cardinals-Mets Preview

The Associated Press

New York Mets starters have not allowed a run against the St. Louis Cardinals through three games in this series.

Dillon Gee's last three games haven't been too bad, either.

Gee is next in line for the Mets on Monday as they try for the franchise's first four-game home sweep of the Cardinals, who have lost five straight and are hoping starter Kyle Lohse can earn his first win in Queens.

Mets starters have been the story of this series, most notably when Johan Santana threw the franchise's first no-hitter in Friday's 8-0 rout.

R.A. Dickey followed that up by striking out nine and scattering seven hits in Saturday's 5-0 victory, and Jonathon Niese struck out a career-high 10 over six innings before leaving with an elevated heart rate in Sunday's 6-1 win.

Mets starters are 7-0 with a 1.38 ERA and three shutouts over the club's last nine games.

"That's what you want," manager Terry Collins said. "You really want guys when they are pitching good to compete with each other.

"(Monday) I want Dillon to stand up and say, 'I'm going to do that. I'm going to do that same thing because those guys have been doing that.' When you do that, you can have a pretty dynamic staff, especially with the guys we have because they can all pitch."

Gee (4-3, 4.69 ERA) is 2-0 with a 2.66 ERA in his last three outings, yielding two runs over 6 2-3 innings Wednesday in a 10-6 loss to Philadelphia.

The right-hander pitched well in his lone career start against the Cardinals, giving up two runs over seven innings July 19 as he earned a 4-2 victory.

He was matched up with Lohse (5-1, 3.36) in that contest, and the two will meet again Monday. Lohse gave up four runs over 5 2-3 innings in that defeat.

The right-hander fell to 0-4 with a 9.39 ERA in five road starts against the Mets, including 0-2 with a 9.72 ERA in two at Citi Field - the only current NL stadium where he has never won.

Lohse has not received a decision in his last four outings after allowing five runs in five innings Wednesday in a 10-7 loss at Atlanta.

David Wright, among the majors' batting leaders with a .363 average, is 9 for 19 with two homers against Lohse.

St. Louis (27-27) has dropped into third place in the NL Central after hitting .160 with 31 strikeouts in this series. The Cardinals, who still lead the NL with a .275 average, are enduring their longest slide since a seven-game skid June 10-17, 2011.

"It's just one of those runs," manager Mike Matheny said. "The only way to get out of it is to work.''

New York (31-23) is in a virtual tie for the NL East lead with Washington and Miami. Those teams are idle Monday so the Mets can take sole possession of first.

"They should be very proud of where they are. They've played very hard, and they've come through in big games," Collins said.

For the Cardinals, Carlos Beltran has had a quiet return to New York by going 2 for 13.

The Mets last swept four from St. Louis at the old Busch Stadium from April 24-27, 1986.

What to Read Next