The pitching matchup seems to heavily favor the St. Louis Cardinals in Monday night's opener of a four-game home set against the New York Mets.
The Cardinals have won the last six regular-season home starts by Lance Lynn while the Mets have yet to win when Jeremy Hefner has been on the mound.
Making matters worse for New York, Lynn (5-1, 2.72 ERA) has never dropped back-to-back starts in his career. His 10-game regular-season win streak ended Tuesday as he gave up two runs over seven innings in a 2-1 road defeat to the Cubs.
"That's the fun part - and the (not-so-fun) part - about this game," Lynn told the Cardinals' official web site. "You can pitch well and lose and pitch bad and win."
Lynn has posted a 1.93 ERA during his six-game win streak in the regular season at Busch Stadium. The right-hander dropped his lone career start against the Mets last June 2, yielding three runs over 4 2-3 innings in a 5-0 loss.
New York (14-20) has lost all seven games - including six starts - when Hefner (0-4, 4.63) has pitched in 2013. He yielded three runs over 15 innings in consecutive starts before allowing four over six Wednesday in a 6-3 loss to the White Sox.
"It's very frustrating. The bottom line is I'm tired of losing," Hefner said.
The right-hander, who has never faced the Cardinals, owns one of the majors' worst run-support averages at 2.57.
The Mets totaled 14 runs on a 2-4 homestand capped by Sunday's 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh. They batted .216 in those games, left 42 runners on base and were 7 for 40 with runners in scoring position.
"You talk about how we're snake bit, but that's just part of the game," manager Terry Collins said. "What's the next thing that's going to keep us from having a big game? But we won two games on this homestand by getting a couple of big hits. We've just got to start hitting with guys in scoring position like we did early and we did last year in the first half."
Desperate for any difference makers offensively, New York on Monday signed Rick Ankiel to a one-year deal and promptly inserted him into the lineup. Ankiel, who was designated for assignment by the Houston Astros last week and cleared waivers Sunday, will bat seventh and play center field.
"We're hoping he helps us out,' Collins said. "Obviously, he's a great defensive outfielder. Makeup off the charts.'
Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda and John Buck are probably all happy to hit the road after that trio combined to go 6 for 56 on the homestand. All three have higher averages on the road than at home, with Murphy at .327, Duda at .308 and Buck at .250.
St. Louis (23-13) has won nine of 11 although it also endured similar woes to New York at the plate last week in leaving 44 runners on base over five games. The Cardinals won three of those contests, with Shelby Miller and Adam Wainwright pitching shutouts over the weekend against Colorado.
Yadier Molina went 0 for 3 in Sunday's 8-2 loss to the Rockies, ending his 11-game hitting streak in which he batted .476.
New York went 4-3 against St. Louis last year. The Cardinals have taken nine of 12 home meetings over the previous four years.
The Associated Press News Service
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