Travis Wood is one of a select few to outpitch Johan Santana this season, getting the best of his fellow left-hander last week.
Accomplishing the feat on the road may prove to be more difficult.
Santana looks to improve on his already stellar numbers at Citi Field when his New York Mets host Wood's Chicago Cubs in the opener of a three-game set Friday night.
Chicago beat New York 6-1 on June 25, when Wood struck out six over seven shutout innings to earn the victory. Santana allowed two runs - both on a Joe Mather homer - in six innings and took the loss at Wrigley Field.
"You always want to bring your A-game, but when you're going against guys like Johan, you know you have to bring it," Wood said after their matchup.
That may be especially true Friday given Santana's success in Queens.
Santana (6-4, 2.76 ERA) is 4-1 with a 1.16 ERA in eight home starts and his home ERA is second in the majors to Oakland's Tommy Milone (0.99). He hasn't lost at Citi Field since Washington's Stephen Strasburg beat him April 11.
New York (45-38) has outscored opponents 22-0 over his last three home starts, with Santana recording a pair of shutouts - including the first no-hitter in Mets history in an 8-0 win over St. Louis on June 1.
He gave up four hits in six innings of a 5-0 win over Baltimore on June 19 in his most recent home outing.
Santana is 2-1 with a 0.90 ERA in his last three starts overall after allowing three hits in eight innings of a 5-0 road win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday.
"I'm very happy to be at this point right now and very happy the way everything has gone," Santana said. "There were a couple of tough games, but the good thing is that I feel good and I'm still competing. I'm just hoping that I stay consistent the whole year."
Santana's only blemish in his recent hot stretch came in Chicago, though he's won both of his home starts against the Cubs with a 1.88 ERA since being acquired from Minnesota prior to the 2008 season.
Wood (3-3, 3.05), meanwhile, brings a streak of 18 2-3 consecutive scoreless innings into Friday. He has won each of his last three starts behind a 0.44 ERA after giving up three hits in 7 2-3 innings of a 3-0 win over Houston on Sunday.
"That was another pretty dominating outing. He stuck to a gameplan and it was perfect," manager Dale Sveum said. "That was about as good as it gets."
Chicago (31-51) has won seven of 10 despite falling 7-3 in Atlanta on Thursday. Rookie Anthony Rizzo went 1 for 4 and has hit safely in eight of his nine games since being called up June 26.
It's unclear how Sveum's lineup will look Friday, but Reed Johnson is hitting .464 (13 for 28) with a homer, a triple and a double lifetime against Santana, whose team rallied for a 6-5 win over Philadelphia on Thursday.
David Wright, who drove in five runs in a 17-1 win at Chicago on June 27 to help end the Mets' four-game losing streak against the Cubs, hit a two-run homer Thursday before driving in the winning run with an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.
"It feels great to win a game like this, but we have to be prepared to win tomorrow," Wright said. "It would be really nice to win another series before the break."
The Cubs won two of three in their last visit to Citi Field from Sept. 9-11.
The Associated Press News Service
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