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Preview: Padres (35-45) at Mets (31-44)
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Game: 3
Venue: Citi Field
Date: April 04, 2013 1:10 PM EDT

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.

San Diego, which started 0-3 last season, has 10 hits in the series. Nick Hundley and Everth Cabrera each had two for the Padres, who were shut out for the first seven innings Wednesday.

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.

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Padres at Mets
Mon, Apr 1 Final 2 to 11
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Padres at Mets
Wed, Apr 3 Final 4 to 8
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Padres at Mets
Thu, Apr 4 Final 2 to 1
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