Mets try to stretch it with Lugo vs. Cubs

NEW YORK — The New York Mets are planning for a short outing from starter Seth Lugo on Thursday night. The Chicago Cubs are probably doing the same, but not feeling nearly as matter-of-fact about itwith Jose Quintana.

The bullpens could be busy Thursday night when the Mets host the Cubs in the opener of a four-game series at Citi Field.

Both teams played Wednesday night as the Mets beat the host Atlanta Braves 4-1 and the visiting Cubs fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1.

Lugo (1-1, 2.48 ERA), whose first 20 appearances this season came as a reliever, is scheduled to make his first start of 2018 when he takes the mound against Quintana (5-4, 4.78).

The start will continue an unusual week for Lugo, who last pitched Monday when he took the loss after allowing three runs in 1 1/3 innings as the Mets fell to the Braves 4-3 in the first game of a doubleheader. The runs were the first allowed in 11 appearances this month by Lugo, who squandered the lead for Jacob deGrom in the eighth before the Mets regained the lead in the top of the ninth.

Instead of going to closer Jeurys Familia, manager Mickey Callaway stayed with Lugo, who issued a leadoff walk to Johan Camargo and gave up the one-out, walk-off two-run homer to Charlie Culberson.

On Tuesday, Lugo learned he would move into the rotation in place of ace right-hander Noah Syndergaard, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a strained ligament in his right index finger. Lugo, who is expected to be limited to between 50 and 60 pitches in his first start since Sept. 30, said he will apply the aggressiveness he’s learned in the bullpen.

“That’s something that’s been working for me this year and I’m going to stick with it,” Lugo told reporters Tuesday. “I just want to make my best pitches.”

Making his best pitches has been a challenge this season for Quintana, who took the loss in his most recent start Saturday after giving up four runs over 4 1/3 innings as the Cubs fell to the San Francisco Giants 5-4. It was the third time in five starts this month in which Quintana did not complete five innings.

Quintana allowed one hit over seven scoreless innings on May 19 against Cincinnati and appeared headed for another strong start Saturday, when he when he struck out six batters over the first three scoreless innings. But Quintana allowed four of the next eight batters he faced to reach base before manager Joe Maddon finally pulled him.

“I wanted to get one or two more innings,” Quintana told reporters afterward. “It was a tough game. I respect his decision.”

Lugo is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in three games (one start) against the Cubs. Quintana is 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA in two starts against the Mets.