Mets-Phillies Preview

Outstanding pitching has keyed the New York Mets’ recent surge. Rookie Rafael Montero will try to turn in the club’s latest strong performance as he seeks his first career victory.

The Mets try to win four straight for the first time since July when they take on the host Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night.

New York (25-28) has gotten a 1.61 ERA from its starters in the past seven games and 7 2-3 scoreless innings from the bullpen during the winning streak. Zack Wheeler struck out nine and walked none in 6 1-3 innings of one-run ball to beat the Phillies 4-1 on Thursday, the Mets’ fourth win in five contests.

Combining on the final seven outs, relievers Vic Black and Jenrry Mejia struck out six.

"That’s pretty impressive," manager Terry Collins told the team’s official website.

Montero (0-2, 4.96 ERA) has played a part in the strong recent pitching performances with solid efforts in two of his first three career starts, but he’s received two total runs of support. He turned in his best game Sunday, giving up two hits in six innings and allowing one run on a homer in a 2-1 loss to Arizona.

The right-hander, who didn’t get the decision, will be facing Philadelphia for the first time as he tries to lead New York to its first four-game run since July 7-10.

Chris Young hit a two-run homer Thursday for the Mets, who got an 11-game road trip off to a strong start. Young entered with three hits in his last 35 at-bats.

”He’s got to get on track, and the home run was really big for him,” Collins said. ”He’s hit some balls hard with nothing to show for it, so I think tonight’s a big game.”

The Phillies (23-28) will send struggling A.J. Burnett (3-4, 3.51) to the mound. The right-hander has gone 1-3 with a 6.26 ERA in his last four games, giving up six runs – four earned – and a season-high 11 hits in seven innings of 6-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday.

However, Burnett has had success against the Mets, posting a 3.39 ERA in 20 career starts despite a 5-6 record. He’s been dominant against them in his last five matchups, going 3-0 with 1.59 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 34 innings.

Philadelphia has been wildly inconsistent offensively, scoring two or fewer runs in four of its last seven games and 20 in the other three. It’s alternated wins and losses in the last six contests.

One night after scoring four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat Colorado, the Phillies mustered four hits Thursday.

"So far, we haven’t put it together," catcher Carlos Ruiz told the team’s website. "We have to fix that. We have to stay strong, come out tomorrow with a different mentality."

The club avoided being shut out for the sixth time in 14 home games Thursday but fell into last place in the NL East.

Veteran outfielder Bobby Abreu is 23 for 70 (.329) with eight doubles and two homers against Burnett, though he has also struck out 20 times in their matchups. He’s expected to start Friday.

Abreu had gone 5 for 11 in his previous three games before making a pinch-hitting appearance Thursday.

Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud returned from the seven-day concussion list and went 0 for 4.