Probable Starting Pitchers: New York - R.A. Dickey (4-8, 3.80) Cincinnati - Mike Leake (8-5, 4.11)
A pair of potential .500 teams - each 50-51 through 101 games - get their first chances to return to even tonight when the New York Mets visit the Cincinnati Reds to open a four-game series at Great American Ball Park.
The Reds climbed within a game of .500 on Sunday at home, as Drew Stubbs led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a homer off Scott Linebrink to beat the Atlanta Braves, 4-3, in the rubber match of a three-game series.
Meanwhile, the Mets fell from .500 on Sunday in Miami, as Logan Morrison clubbed a game-tying home run and John Buck delivered a two-out, RBI double in the eighth inning to give the Florida Marlins a 5-4 win in the rubber match of a three-game series at Sun Life Stadium.
Cincinnati's middling record has kept it in the thick of the race in the National League's Central, where the Reds are three games behind a three-way tie for first place involving St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Milwaukee.
The forecast is a bit different for New York in the NL East, when a one- below-.500 record leaves the Mets 14 1/2 games behind the front-running Philadelphia Phillies and 8 1/2 in back of the early wild card leaders in Atlanta.
Second-year right-hander Mike Leake gets the call for the Reds on the mound and aims for his first win since July 3.
The Arizona State product improved to 8-4 on the season with a 7-5 interleague defeat of the Cleveland Indians that day, but has since gone 0-1 in a pair of starts.
He pitched well in a tough-luck loss at Pittsburgh on July 19, allowing just a run on two hits in six innings of a 1-0 Pirates win.
In his last 10 starts, the 23-year-old has pitched six innings nine times and allowed three earned runs or less seven times.
He got a no-decision in his lone career start against the Mets.
New York replies with 36-year-old knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who'll face the Reds for the first time in his 193rd big-league appearance.
The University of Tennessee product hasn't won in four tries since June 28, when he went seven innings in the Mets' 14-3 interleague rout of Detroit.
Dickey is 0-1 with three no-decisions since, allowing a combined 23 hits and 11 runs in 25 1/3 innings.
He's 3-2 in 10 road appearances in 2011 with a 3.19 earned run average.
The Reds took four of six from the Mets last year.