Mets hope to continue strong pitching against Cubs (Jun 13, 2017)

BY AP • June 13, 2017

NEW YORK -- The good news for the New York Mets is they are finally getting the starting pitching they expected all season. That's bad news for the struggling Chicago Cubs.

The Mets will look to continue their recent strong run of starting pitching Tuesday night, when they host the Cubs in the middle game of a three-game series at Citi Field. New York right-hander Jacob deGrom twirled the team's first complete game of the season in Monday's opener, when he tossed a five-hitter in a 6-1 win.

Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler (3-3, 3.45 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Cubs left-hander Jon Lester (3-4, 4.13 ERA).

Wheeler will be trying to extend an impressive streak by Mets starters, who have allowed one run or fewer in six straight games. The starters have compiled a 0.87 ERA (four earned runs in 41 1/3 innings) during the streak, which is the longest by the franchise since a team-record eight-game run in 2010.

Overall, the Mets have allowed one run or fewer in each of their last four games, which were started by rookie right-hander Robert Gsellman and a pair of second-year hurlers, left-hander Steven Matz and right-hander Seth Lugo.

It's quite a turnaround for the Mets, who entered Monday ranked 12th in the National League in ERA due largely to the absence of ace Noah Syndergaard, who suffered a torn lat May 1, and Matz and Lugo, who didn't debut until Saturday and Sunday due to elbow injuries.

"We got a couple guys back," said Mets shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who hit two solo homers Monday. "The way that we've played, that's how we're supposed to (play)."

Wheeler didn't factor into the decision in his most recent start last Wednesday, when he allowed one run over seven innings as the Mets beat the Texas Rangers, 4-3. He exited with a 3-1 lead, which the Mets gave up in the eighth inning.

On Tuesday, he'll face a Cubs team that has scored three runs or fewer four times in the last five games and 28 times overall in 63 games this season. Chicago scored three runs or fewer just 56 times last season on its way to the franchise's first World Series title since 1908.

"We can't keep using that as an excuse, that the other team's pitcher is good," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said following Monday's loss. "We've got to start beating some better pitchers period. You don't get to the promised land without winning games like that -- maybe 3-2, 4-3, whatever."

When Lester takes the mound Tuesday, he'll be making his fourth attempt at winning the 150th game of his career. He took the loss in his most recent start last Thursday after allowing four runs over five innings as the Cubs fell to the Colorado Rockies, 4-1.

Wheeler is 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA in two career starts against the Cubs. Lester is 3-1 with a 4.67 ERA in five career regular-season starts against the Mets.



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