Mets-Cubs Preview

After losing the Subway Series over the weekend, the New York

Mets are probably eager to get back to playing teams from their own

league.

The Mets try to avoid dropping three straight for the first time

this month when they open a three-game road series against the

Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.

New York (22-24) had won nine of 13 entering its first

interleague series of the season. After taking the opener against

the Yankees 2-1 on Friday, the Mets lost the next two, 7-3 and

9-3.

Mike Pelfrey was charged with four of the eight runs allowed in

the eighth inning Sunday after Chris Capuano gave up six runs the

previous day. Before the last two games, New York starters allowed

two earned runs in 27 2-3 innings over four contests.

“We let it slip away, and that’s on me more than anybody,”

Pelfrey said. ”But we’ll be fine.”

A matchup with the battered Cubs could help the Mets bounce

back. While injuries have landed New York’s David Wright, Ike Davis

and Angel Pagan on the disabled list, Chicago had some key players

of its own go down over the weekend.

The Cubs have lost eight of 13 and dropped two of three to

Boston over the weekend. They suffered a 5-1 defeat Sunday,

matching a season low with five hits.

Making matters worse, Matt Garza was scratched from Sunday’s

start with right elbow stiffness. Second baseman Jeff Baker, who

went 6 for 9 against the Red Sox, left the finale with a groin

strain and will be re-evaluated Tuesday.

Center fielder Marlon Byrd landed on the disabled list with

multiple facial fractures after being hit in the face with a

fastball Saturday.

“We’ve gone through some tough times,” manager Mike Quade told

the Cubs’ official website. “You’d like to go home and have a good

homestand and hang around a little longer. At some point, you want

to get yourselves back healthy and playing consistent baseball

where you can make a run.”

Chicago will look to regroup during this nine-game homestand

which includes series against Pittsburgh and Houston.

The Cubs have won seven of 10 at home against the Mets and took

two of three there last year. They’ll face Jonathon Niese (3-4,

4.39 ERA) in the opener.

Niese has gone 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA in three starts against the

Cubs, two of which came last year. He gave up five runs in six

innings at Wrigley Field on Sept. 5, but got the victory as New

York won 18-5.

Baker is 4 for 6 against Niese while Aramis Ramirez and Geovany

Soto homered off him in the September start.

Niese is coming off his best start of the season, allowing six

hits while striking out seven in seven innings of a 3-0 win over

Washington on Wednesday. He has posted a 3.29 ERA in his last six

starts.

Chicago’s Ryan Dempster (2-4, 6.91) wasn’t nearly as good his

last time out, surrendering five runs in five innings of a 7-5 win

over Florida on Wednesday. He had recorded a 2.25 ERA in his three

starts prior to that outing.

The right-hander has gone 9-5 with a 5.58 ERA in 14 starts and

11 relief appearances versus the Mets. He opposed Niese at Wrigley

last year and allowed seven runs – three earned – in 4 2-3

innings.

Right fielder Carlos Beltran is 6 for 9 with a home run against

Dempster.