Diamondbacks-Mets Preview

A combination of timely hitting and solid pitching has the New

York Mets on the verge of accomplishing something they have not

done in almost 11 years.

The Mets try for a season-high fourth straight victory Sunday to

sweep a home series from the Arizona Diamondbacks for the first

time since 2000.

New York (8-13) has outscored Houston and Arizona 19-6 during a

three-game winning streak that’s followed a 2-12 stretch. Jason Bay

hit his first home run and drove in three runs, while Ike Davis

went deep for the third straight game and Daniel Murphy added two

RBIs in Saturday’s 6-4 win over Arizona.

“All of a sudden we’re getting some timely hits,” Bay said.

“We’re getting some good pitching at the back end of ballgames.

There’s a lot of reason to be optimistic.”

The Mets, who secured their first winning series at Citi Field

in 2011, have not swept the Diamondbacks in Queens since May 19-21,

2000.

New York’s recent success has coincided with the return of Bay,

4 for 12 in three games since coming off the disabled list Thursday

from a strained rib cage.

“He’s one of the pros in the clubhouse, and there’s a lot of

them in there, but he brings a sense of calmness,” Mets manager

Terry Collins said of Bay, who didn’t play after July 25 last

season due to a concussion. “It’s what we needed.”

Davis is 8 for 21 with the three homers and two doubles over his

last six games, while Murphy is batting .412 with four RBIs in his

last five.

Though New York’s starting pitchers have allowed four earned

runs over 20 innings in the last three games, the club needs

Jonathon Niese (0-3, 5.87 ERA) to get back on track as he tries to

avoid losing his fourth consecutive start Sunday.

The left-hander allowed two runs and walked five in six innings

of a 6-1 loss to Houston on Tuesday. In Niese’s defense, he has

received an average of just 1.96 runs of support this season.

Niese went 0-1 with an 8.68 ERA in two starts versus Arizona

last season. The loss came when he allowed seven runs in 4 1-3

innings of a 14-1 home defeat Aug 1.

Arizona (8-11) hopes Armando Galarraga (3-0, 6.00) can match his

win total from last season and help the club avoid a fourth

consecutive loss after opening a six-game trip with two straight

wins at Cincinnati.

“We have a game (Sunday) and we’ll come after them,”

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said.

Galarraga, who went 4-9 in 24 starts for Detroit in 2010, has

pitched into the seventh inning just once and has allowed six

homers this season. However, his teammates have scored 24 runs

during his three starts.

Galarraga allowed three runs in six innings of a 5-4 win at

Cincinnati on Tuesday.

“The way he finished (retiring 10 of the last 11 batters he

faced) that’s the best he’s looked,” Gibson said. “We expect him to

do that.”

The right-hander won his only previous start against the Mets at

Citi Field on June 24, allowing four runs in six innings of a 6-5

win for the Tigers.

Justin Upton, who had two hits Saturday, is batting .368 during

a nine-game hitting streak against the Mets. He is 4 for 6 with a

double versus Niese.