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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Preview: 2011 Regular Season Game 47 - Mets at Cubs

New York Mets (22-24) at Chicago Cubs (20-25), 8:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: New York - Jon Niese (3-4, 4.39) Chicago - Ryan Dempster (2-4, 6.91)

After a forgettable trip to one historic ballpark, the Chicago Cubs return to Wrigley Field to begin a lengthy homestand with the opener of a three-game set against the New York Mets.

The Cubs return home after dropping two of three to Boston in their first trip to Fenway Park since the 1918 World Series. Even the lone game they won in that series came with a loss as outfielder Marlon Byrd was hit in the face by a pitch in Saturday's 9-3 win and spent the night at a local hospital.

Byrd, who is batting .308 with three homers and 11 RBI this year, was released on Sunday, but was placed on the disabled list due to facial fractures.

Without Byrd, Chicago was bested 5-1 in Sunday's finale, getting limited to just one run by Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield.

"We just couldn't solve Wakefield, it's that simple," Cubs manager Mike Quade said.

Jeff Baker drove in Chicago's lone run, but suffered a strained groin on his RBI hit and his status for this game is unknown.

Making a spot start in place of Matt Garza, who had his outing skipped due to elbow tightness, James Russell yielded three runs over four-plus innings to suffer the loss.

Taking the mound tonight for the opener of this nine-game homestand will be Ryan Dempster, who is 2-4 with a 6.91 earned run average in 10 starts this season.

The right-hander picked up a win over the Giants on May 13, striking out 11 over six innings of two-run ball, but then took a step back on Wednesday in a no-decision versus the Marlins. Dempster was tagged for five runs on eight hits over five innings, striking out three.

The 34-year-old has faced the Mets 25 times in his career, 14 of those starts, and is 9-5 with a save and 5.58 ERA.

New York heads to Chicago after losing two of three to the Yankees in the Subway Series at the Bronx. The Mets took the opener on Friday, 2-1, but yielded 16 runs in dropping the next two. That includes a 9-3 setback on Sunday.

Mike Pelfrey allowed only one run through the first six innings, but was responsible for four of the eight runs the Yanks scored in the seventh and took the loss.

"We let this game today slip away, and that's on me more than anybody," Pelfrey said.

Willie Harris, Ronny Paulino and Jason Pridie all drove in runs in defeat.

Hoping to get the Mets back on track this evening will be Jon Niese, who won his second straight start on Wednesday with seven scoreless innings in a 3-0 victory over the Nationals on Wednesday. The southpaw scattered six hits and a walk while striking out seven.

Niese, 24, is 3-4 with a 4.39 ERA in nine starts this season and 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA in three starts against the Cubs.

New York won four of seven versus Chicago last year, but dropped two of three at Wrigley Field.

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