The Philadelphia Phillies are trying to stay positive despite being on the verge of tying their longest losing streak of the season. A matchup with the New York Mets' Jonathon Niese may not help them start feeling better.
After an outstanding June, Niese will try to begin this month with a season-high third straight win Tuesday night at Citi Field.
Philadelphia (36-45) managed two runs in each of its three games in Miami this weekend, with a 5-2 defeat Sunday putting the team within one loss of matching a six-game skid from June 2-7.
The Phillies are hoping to get a boost after the All-Star break from first baseman Ryan Howard's expected return from Achilles surgery as they look to play up to expectations.
""There's a lot of baseball (left). You've got to keep swinging, stay up, you've got to stay positive," manager Charlie Manuel told the team's official website. "Bottom line is it gets back to how much you love to play and how much you want to play and enjoy playing."
Philadelphia might not enjoy facing Niese (6-3, 3.55 ERA), who went 3-1 with a 1.89 ERA in five June starts. He has allowed three runs in 13 1-3 innings while winning his last two outings, giving up one over seven in a 17-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday.
"In May, I wasn't able to execute my fastball a lot," the left-hander said. "My last few starts, I have been able to (control the fastball). That helps the secondary pitches."
Niese has gone 1-0 with a 3.24 ERA in three starts against the Phillies this season, though he struggled with his control during the only matchup in New York on May 28. He issued a season-high five walks and gave up four runs over five innings of an 8-4 loss.
The Mets (43-37) had their four-game win streak snapped with a miscue-filled 8-3 road loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday, committing three total errors and having two runners thrown out in the opening inning.
Opening its final homestand before the break, New York will face Vance Worley (4-4, 2.92), who is coming off his first win since returning from the disabled list June 4.
The right-hander allowed three runs over six innings of a 5-4 victory over Pittsburgh last Tuesday. He had received one total run of support in losing his previous two starts, during which he gave up three earned runs in 14 innings.
Worley was outpitched by Niese in his only start against the Mets this season April 14. He gave up four runs and a season-high four walks in six innings of a 5-0 defeat in Philadelphia, with Niese going 6 2-3 for the victory.
Worley, though, yielded one run and four hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 7-2 win in his most recent start at Citi Field on July 15.
The Mets are 6-3 against the Phillies this season but dropped two of three in the most recent matchup May 28-30 in New York.