Marlins-Mets Preview

The Associated Press

Now that Jose Reyes has gotten the awkward feelings of returning to Citi Field out of the way, he and the rest of the Miami Marlins may want to go about ending their offensive woes.

R.A. Dickey, though, will likely prove a formidable foe as the knuckleballer leads the New York Mets into the middle game of their series Wednesday night.

Reyes, who signed a $106 million, six-year contract with the Marlins (7-9) in the offseason, went 0 for 4 in his much-anticipated return to New York, where the Mets posted a 2-1 victory Tuesday night.

"It was kind of weird for me a little bit,'' said the 2011 NL batting champ, whose average dropped to .215. "But after the third inning, everything goes away and you just focus on playing baseball.

"Tomorrow, I'll have a better idea. But it's good to see my buddies over there. I played for them for a long time.''

The shortstop isn't the only one struggling at the plate for Miami, which has plated only three runs during its three-game losing streak. The Marlins have gone 13 for 95 (.137) with 26 strikeouts and only five extra-base hits in that span.

"We've got a better offense than what we are showing right now," manager Ozzie Guillen told the team's official website. "I hope those guys believe in themselves and I hope those guys believe in what they can do.

"They have talent. Just don't panic. Take it one game at a time."

Dickey (2-1, 5.71 ERA) appears well-situated to bounce back from a horrific start. The right-hander befuddled the Marlins in winning all three starts against them last year, conceding only an unearned run in 20 innings while striking out 16.

That knuckleball, however, didn't do much last Wednesday at Atlanta, where rainy conditions prevented Dickey from getting his customary grip on the ball. The result was eight runs and eight hits - three of them home runs - allowed in 4 1-3 innings of a 14-6 defeat.

"It's like throwing water balloons,'' said Dickey, who is 5-2 versus Miami lifetime. "That can't be an excuse. I still have to find a way to keep us in the ball game.''

Omar Infante has had few problems with Dickey, going 11 for 22 with a homer, while Hanley Ramirez is 6 for 15 and Gaby Sanchez 5 for 15 with three doubles and a homer. The trio, though, is a combined 1 for 25 during Miami's losing streak.

New York (9-8) won for just the second time in seven games Tuesday, but its offense is also scuffling with five runs in its last three. Third baseman David Wright is mired in a 1 for 16 slump but still batting .365 overall, and Josh Thole has hit safely in seven straight games to raise his average to a team-best .366.

Mark Buehrle (1-2, 2.66) seeks his first road win since joining the Marlins while building on his first victory with the team. The left-hander turned in a tidy performance in his home debut last Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs, allowing one run in eight innings while throwing 99 pitches in a 9-1 romp.

"It's a good first win of the year," Buehrle told the team's official website. "I've thrown the ball well. You've got to go out there and throw zeroes."

Buehrle is making his first appearance versus New York.

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