Mets-Cubs Preview

The Associated Press

With their starting rotation finding at least some temporary stability, the New York Mets have put a six-game skid behind them. They can win a third straight for only the second time this season Saturday as they play the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

New York (16-23) had lost six in a row prior to Friday's 5-2 win at St. Louis, then followed that with a 3-2 win in the opener against Chicago on Friday.

During the losing streak, Mets starters posted a 7.16 ERA. In the two games since, Jonathon Niese and Matt Harvey combined to limit opponents to four runs over 14 2-3 innings.

Harvey recovered from a shaky first inning Friday and was mostly dominant the rest of the way. He allowed both runs on three hits in the first then followed that with 6 1-3 shutout innings while giving up two hits.

"He's not your run-of-the-mill young pitcher," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "This guy has got some savvy. He's got great confidence."

Harvey also provided the go-ahead run for himself with a single in the seventh, but otherwise, New York's offense remained mostly dormant with 31 runs on 78 hits over the last 11 games. David Wright went 3 for 4 with his sixth home run and is hitting .321 with 14 RBIs over his last 14 games against Chicago.

On the mound Saturday will be Jeremy Hefner (0-4, 4.61 ERA) for the Mets and Scott Feldman (3-3, 2.53 ERA) for the Cubs, two right-handers who have both thrown better of late.

New York has lost all seven of Hefner's starts, though he's yielded just 10 runs over 27 innings in his last four outings. Four of those runs came in the first inning.

"Not everything is gauged on wins and losses, although winning is the most important thing - especially in the big leagues," Hefner told the team's official website. "I need to keep the runs down early in the game, build some momentum and confidence for myself and the team, and hopefully we'll come out on the winning side more often than not."

Conversely, Chicago (17-24) has won each of Feldman's last four starts as he's recorded a 1.57 ERA, allowing 17 hits and seven walks over 28 2-3 innings. The Cubs dropped his first three outings as he gave up 14 runs - seven earned - over 14 innings.

"He's throwing the ball wherever he wants," manager Dale Sveum told the team's official website. "You just hope it continues."

The Cubs' defensive woes continued Friday as two more errors ran their season total to 33, their seventh multi-error game.

David DeJesus is 7 for 16 over his last four contests and Starlin Castro extended his hitting streak to seven games after going 2 for 4. Castro has collected at least one hit in 14 of his 16 games against New York, batting .344 lifetime.

Feldman was hit hard in his only previous start against the Mets, giving up seven runs and eight hits over five innings while with Texas on June 13, 2008. He's only faced two current Mets, with John Buck going 3 for 13 and Wright 0 for 2.

Hefner threw 1 1-3 scoreless innings of relief against the Cubs on June 26, 2012, hitting one batter.

New York's only other three-game winning streak this season was April 6-8.

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