A productive offense and some solid starting pitching has keyed the New York Mets ' strong start.
The Mets look to sweep a season-opening series for the second straight year Thursday against the San Diego Padres at Citi Field.
New York opened the season Monday with an 11-2 rout of San Diego and followed with an 8-4 victory Wednesday. After Jonathon Niese allowed two runs in 6 2-3 innings in the opener, Matt Harvey struck out 10 and yielded one hit over seven scoreless frames against the Pirates on a chilly night in Queens."He pitched an absolutely - under the circumstances - an unbelievable game," Mets manager Terry Collins said of Harvey. "The fact that he commanded his stuff as well as he did was impressive."
The Mets opened 4-0 in 2012, but finished 74-88 to miss the postseason for the sixth consecutive year. They've already scored three more runs in two games this season than they did in the first four a year ago.
Catcher John Buck hit one of New York's three homers and had three RBIs while David Wright added a run-scoring double Wednesday. Lucas Duda reached base three times and scored twice for New York, which has 21 hits and four homers through two games.
Buck is 4 for 8 with four RBIs in the series.
Collins will hand the ball to Dillon Gee , who went 6-7 with a 4.10 ERA in 17 starts before a blood clot in his right shoulder ended his 2012 season prior to the All-Star break. The right-hander should be eager to face the Padres after he allowed two runs, struck out 14 and overcame seven walks over 13 2-3 innings to win his previous two starts against them.
Cabrera is 5 for 14 (.357) in his last four games against the Mets.
Looking to help the Padres avoid a sixth consecutive loss in Queens, Eric Stults takes the mound to start his first full season with San Diego."We need to get a win, no doubt about it," manager Bud Black said. "Stultzie has had a good couple of starts at the end of spring and he's capable of pitching a great game."
Acquired off waivers from the Chicago White Sox in May, Stults went 8-3 with a 2.91 ERA in 15 starts last season despite missing almost two months with a strained left lat muscle. The 33-year-old left-hander will again rely on commanding his offspeed pitches to succeed.
"A guy like me, who is more finesse, has to adapt and find ways to get guys out other than velocity," Stults told the Padres' official website. "If you can do that, hopefully there will be a team that will allow you to do that.
"It still comes down to getting outs."
Stults is 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA in four starts against the Mets.
|San Diego Padres|
|March 31, 2013||Cory Luebke||60-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|March 31, 2013||Casey Kelly||60-Day DL||Right elbow surgery, out for season|
|March 27, 2013||Logan Forsythe||15-Day DL||Plantar fasciitis, right foot|
|March 22, 2013||Chase Headley||15-Day DL||Broken left thumb|
|March 22, 2013||James Darnell||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|March 22, 2013||Casey Kelly||Day-to-Day||Right elbow|
|New York Mets|
|March 22, 2013||Jenrry Mejia||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|March 22, 2013||Frank Francisco||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|March 22, 2013||Shaun Marcum||15-Day DL||Neck strain|
|March 22, 2013||Johan Santana||15-Day DL||Left shoulder surgery - out for season|
NEW YORK (AP) -- Eric Stults looked at the scoreboard after two innings and was a bit taken aback.
In his 12th season of a professional baseball odyssey that's taken him to 10 minor league cities from Albuquerque to Vero Beach, overseas to Japan and across America to four big league clubs, the 33-year-old right-hander finally had earned a job on an opening-day major league roster.
And while he had pitched scoreless ball for two innings Thursday, his pitch count was up to 49.
"Damn foul balls," San Diego Padres manager Bud Black said.
Stults (1-0) gritted his way through five scoreless innings of three-hit ball, combining with five relievers on a five-hitter and 14 strikeouts to lead the Padres over the New York Mets 2-1 for their first win of the season.
Jedd Gyorko doubled in the go-ahead run in the fourth for his first major league RBI, and the Padres avoided starting the season with three straight losses for the second year in a row.
"To get that first win is big," Stults said.
Claimed on waivers from the Chicago White Sox last May, he was just 8-10 in a big league career that began with the Los Angeles Dodgers and moved on to Colorado. Finally getting the chance to pitch regularly with the Padres, he went 8-3 with a 2.92 ERA.
"Years past, I might get four, five starts and then get sent back down to the minor leagues and then come back up. I was always bouncing back and forth," he said. "In years past, when I was bouncing back and forth, I might go six days and not pitch or seven days. And there was days I was pitching on short rest, when I would get called up. So not that that's an excuse, but it's I think a little bit tougher a starting pitcher when you're routine gets thrown off."
Stults, who beat the Mets seven years ago for his first big league win, had only one 1-2-3 inning but kept escaping trouble. He walked two and struck out seven - including four looking.
"Mixed up pitches, a variety of speeds, kept them off balance all day," Black said. "High and low with the fastball. In and out with the fastball. Good overhand curve. Good change. Little slider to the lefty. Pitched well."
Of Stults' 95 pitches, the Mets fouled off 20.
"He went after hitters and was able to expand the zone when he got ahead," Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Brad Brach , Joe Thatcher , Dale Thayer , Luke Gregerson and Huston Street followed. John Buck drove Street's first pitch of the season off the facing of the second deck in left for his second homer of the series, but Street then retired three in a row for the save.
Mets starter Dillon Gee (0-1) returned from shoulder surgery last summer and was nearly as sharp as Stults. He opened with a five-pitch walk, then retired 10 in a row and wound up giving up three hits in 6 1-3 innings.
Gee didn't pitch at all during the second half of last season. He said July 8 he felt numbness in fingers on his right hand, a day after pitching eight innings to beat the Chicago Cubs . Tests revealed a blood clot in his shoulder, and he had surgery July 13 as doctors used a vein from his groin area to widen the artery to prevent future clots.
"It felt great today," he said. "I put it behind me a long time ago. Today really felt just like any other day, any other start."
Outscored 19-6 in their first two games, the Padres rested Carlos Quentin from the starting lineup in the day game following a night game and inserted Mark Kotsay in left field. Justin Turner started at second for the Mets in place of Daniel Murphy , and Turner got hits in his first three at-bats of the season.
Gee gave up a run in the fourth after one-out singles by Kotsay and Yonder Alonso put runners on the corners. Gyorko, who made his big league debut Monday, pulled a 1-2 changeup over the third-base bag to give the Padres their first lead this season.
"I was able to hook it down the line. It was good to kind of get that early lead," said Gyorko, starting at third base while Chase Headley is on the disabled list. "No one likes to look up at the scoreboard and be down eight runs with the last couple of innings to play."
Jeurys Familia allowed another run in the eighth when pinch-hitter Chris Denorfia walked leading off, Alonso singled him to third and Familia bounced a slider over the glove of Buck, who tried for a backhand grab. That turned out to be the difference.
After the game, the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" blared in the visitors' clubhouse.
"When you hear the music in the clubhouse," Gyorko said, "it's a good thing."
NOTES: Jason Marquis pitches for the Padres on Friday in their series opener at Colorado, which starts Jeff Francis . ... Jeremy Hefner starts for the Mets on Friday against Miami's Alex Sanabia . ... Mets RHP Shaun Marcum , who didn't pitch in spring training games after March 16, had an MRI of his neck Thursday and was diagnosed with nerve inflammation. He had an injection, will travel back to the team's spring training complex on Friday and rest for at least two days.