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08/21/10 8:40 PM ET

Mets push road woes aside with sweep in sight

On the morning of June 28, the Mets found themselves a season-best 11 games over .500.

Since then, they've just been trying to find themselves.

New York's ensuing 19-29 record has it fighting to stay above the break-even mark -- not exactly a goal the Mets anticipated at this point of the season, as they're currently pinned 7 1/2 games behind the Phillies in the National League Wild Card standings.

Road woes rank among the chief reasons for New York's downfall. The Mets enter Sunday afternoon's series finale against the Pirates at PNC Park having won just three of their 21 sets away from Citi Field in 2010. Manager Jerry Manuel's club began this weekend having not claimed a road series victory since mid-June, when it swept Cleveland.

New York will vie for their first road sweep against an NL foe behind Johan Santana, the author of complete-game efforts in his past two starts.

"Every game is very important for us," Santana said. "Every time we go out there, we have to go out there with the mentality of winning."

Santana will apply that mentality opposite Zach Duke, who bested the ace in a June 2, 2009, duel at PNC Park. Duke fired seven innings of one-run ball to earn the win that day, but he hasn't tasted victory recently. The 27-year-old left-hander is 0-3 with a 6.35 ERA in four August appearances.

Duke's losses have often been marred by one particularly poor inning, a trend he couldn't quite explain following Tuesday's setback to the Marlins.

"I think it varies from game to game," Duke said. "This time, it was execution. I just didn't get the ball down where I wanted it. That led to my undoing."

Mets: Three's company
New York has scored three or fewer runs in 14 of its 19 games this month. ... Mets starters have worked seven or more innings in nine of their past 12 outings. ... Shortstop Jose Reyes needs four runs to match Howard Johnson for the second-highest total in franchise history (627). ... With 1,116 career hits, third baseman David Wright stands 20 shy of tying Edgardo Alfonzo for third place on the club's all-time list.

Pirates: Losing streak
Though Pittsburgh clinched its 18th consecutive losing season Friday, manager John Russell still sees value in the remaining weeks of the 2010 campaign. "We can't just write off the rest of the year," Russell said. "We need to continue to grow. We're going to do whatever we can to make sure we end on a positive note here." ... All 12 of center fielder Andrew McCutchen's home runs have come with the bases empty. ... Left fielder Jose Tabata has hit safely in 15 of his past 18 home games, batting .377 (26-for-69) during that stretch. ... Reliever Chris Resop has yielded four hits in 8 1/3 innings of one-run ball since being claimed off waivers from the Braves on Aug. 4.

Worth noting
The Mets and Pirates have split 30 games at PNC Park since its inception. ... Santana has registered a 1.88 ERA over five career appearances against Pittsburgh. ... Duke is 3-1 with a 3.20 ERA in six career starts opposite New York.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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