Padres-Mets Preview


Coming off a pair of narrow victories, the David Wright-led New York Mets are hoping to see their momentum carry over during their season-high 11-game homestand.

A visit from the road-weary San Diego Padres could help them get off to a good start.

Wright looks to continue his hot hitting as New York and San Diego square off in the first of four Thursday night.

After suffering back-to-back losses at Toronto, New York (24-20) won three of four to conclude its six-game trek with a .500 record. The Mets took two of three in Pittsburgh, winning 3-2 on Tuesday and 3-1 in Wednesday's finale to improve to 15-6 in games decided by two runs or fewer.

Jon Niese threw 7 2-3 innings of one-run ball while Wright, leading the majors with a .399 average, went 1 for 4 with an RBI.

Aside from Wright, though, New York has struggled at the plate recently. The Mets are hitting just .223 over their last 11 games - including a .209 mark with runners in scoring position.

"When you pitch, you can scratch out some wins but when not pitching and hitting at the same, that's a bad combination," manager Terry Collins said. "David got another big hit today. As long as he's hitting we're going to score runs but we've got to get other guys in our lineup going."

Scheduled to make his first major league start for the Mets is Jeremy Hefner (0-1, 2.25 ERA), who gave up two runs, four hits and struck out five over five innings of relief after replacing the injured Miguel Batista during Saturday's 2-0 loss to the Blue Jays.

"I thought Jeremy was outstanding (Saturday)," Collins told "I told him so. He really pitched great. We are going to see what he can do, whether we're looking forward to it or not."

Hefner compiled a 2.72 ERA over seven starts at Triple-A Buffalo before being recalled last week. The right-hander, originally drafted by the Mets in 2004, spent the previous five years in San Diego's system before ultimately being claimed by New York after the 2011 season.

Hefner seems to have a favorable matchup against the Padres (16-29), whose four road wins are the fewest in baseball.

San Diego, batting a major league-worst .191 with men on second or third, went a combined 2 for 22 (.091) in such situations during a three-game sweep in St. Louis - including a 1-for-8 effort during Wednesday's 6-3 defeat.

The Padres try to get back on track behind Eric Stults (0-0, 2.70), who was claimed by San Diego two days after being designated for assignment by the Chicago White Sox last week. The Padres didn't waste much time throwing Stults into action - the left-hander yielded two runs, four hits and three walks over 6 2-3 innings but didn't factor in Saturday's 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels.

"His changeup was really good," catcher Nick Hundley said. "And his misses were good, too. He didn't get hurt by them. It was either where he wanted it or they were just off the plate."

Stults is 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in three career starts against the Mets, though he hasn't faced them since August 2007.

Stults will look to add to Ike Davis' recent woes. The first baseman, hitting just .159, is mired in a 3-for-36 (.083) slump over his last 11 games.