After surrendering one hit in nine scoreless innings, Matt Harvey might be wondering what it takes to pick up a win. Jeremy Hefner certainly can sympathize.
Hefner tries to follow Harvey's stellar effort with another one of his own and notch his first victory of the season Wednesday night at Citi Field as the New York Mets try to spoil Jake Peavy's return for the Chicago White Sox.
The Mets have lost all six games Hefner (0-3, 4.34 ERA) has pitched, including five starts, but the right-hander wasn't to blame for the last two. He allowed a combined three runs and seven hits over 15 innings in those two starts but received only one run of support in each.
Hefner held Miami scoreless through eight innings last Tuesday, notching a career-high eight strikeouts, but left with two runners on in the ninth and was ultimately charged with both runs in the 2-1 defeat.
"That guy was manhandling us for eight innings," Marlins outfielder Juan Pierre said.
Harvey was the one manhandling the opposition in the opener of this two-game set, retiring the first 20 Chicago batters and giving up only an infield single while recording 12 strikeouts. Bobby Parnell took over in the 10th and would get the win later in that inning when pinch-hitter Mike Baxter lined an RBI single to give New York a 1-0 victory.
That was one of just five hits - all singles - by the Mets (13-16), who had been 1-10 when scoring fewer than four runs.
Chicago (13-18) has scored only seven in its last four games, losing three, and has struck out 90 times over the past nine while going 3-6.
With their offensive struggles putting a premium on good pitching, the White Sox will be glad to welcome Peavy (3-1, 3.38) back into their rotation. The right-hander missed his last scheduled starts Thursday and Monday due to back spasms that he said resulted from reaching for his glove following stretching exercises.
"I've never had anything like this happen," said Peavy, who missed significant time from 2009-11 with ankle, shoulder and groin injuries.
With Gavin Floyd out for the season and John Danks still working his way back from shoulder surgery in June 2012, Chicago desperately needs Peavy to pick up where he left off. He went 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA in his last three starts before getting hurt.
"I think every day you go through the list and figure out who's available, and the training room's full," manager Robin Ventura said. "It's just part of playing the game. You just deal with it."
Peavy last pitched April 16 when he beat Tampa Bay, giving up three runs and one walk in 6 2-3 innings of a 5-4 victory.
He's started 10 games against the Mets, posting a 5-2 record and 3.48 ERA, but hasn't faced them since 2009 while with San Diego.
John Buck has homered twice off Peavy in six career at-bats - all in 2010 - and leads New York with 10 homers but is hitless in his last two games.
White Sox slugger Paul Konerko, hitting .184 in his last 12, is expected back in the lineup after getting a night off Tuesday. Among the other struggling Chicago hitters are Tyler Flowers, in a 3-for-31 slump, and Adam Dunn, 5 for 59 on the road this season.
None of them have faced Hefner, whose last win came Oct. 3 at Miami.