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4


National League Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, July 18 (All times Eastern)

New York Mets (45-50) at San Diego Padres (41-54), 10:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: New York - Bartolo Colon (8-8, 3.99) San Diego - Ian Kennedy (7-9, 3.47)

(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Mets will try to pick up right where they left off on Friday when they start the second half of their season with the first of three games against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.

After losing seven of eight New York went into the All-Star break on a high note, as it won eight of 10 games to pull within seven games of National League East leaders Washington and Atlanta.

Now the Mets hit the road for 10 games, a stretch that may ultimately decide the fate of their season. And getting the call on Friday will be one of their best pitchers this season, righty Bartolo Colon, who is 8-8 with a 3.99 ERA. Colon, though, has lost his last three starts after six winning six consecutive decisions.

The first inning has been Colon's weakness, as he owns a 9.00 ERA in the first, but a 3.13 ERA the rest of the way. That has certainly been the case in his last five outings, during which he's allowed 11 earned runs in five opening frames (19.80 ERA) and four earned runs in the other 32 (1.13 ERA).

"Obviously the first inning is very important," Colon said through an interpreter after his most recent start. "I'm just having a little trouble and I'm going to try to work to change it."

Colon has split four starts versus the Padres and has pitched to a 1.78 ERA in those outings.

San Diego, meanwhile, will counter with righty Ian Kennedy, who has been remarkable over his last three starts. Kennedy was magnificent on Saturday in Los Angeles, as he held the Dodgers to three hits over eight scoreless innings, but did not get the decision in his team's 1-0 loss.

"He's pitching great. He really had command of the outside corner to right- handed hitters," manager Bud Black said after the game. "I thought that was the big difference tonight. He shut them down."

Kennedy's been stingy in July, with just two earned runs in 21 innings spanning three starts. He is 7-9 overall on the year with a 3.47 ERA.

His 133 strikeouts in 124 1/3 innings this season are third-most in the National League, and also second-most ever for a Padres pitcher in the first half.

Kennedy has faced the Mets seven times and is 4-2 with a 4.35 ERA.

San Diego went into the break losing seven of nine and were shutout in consecutive games to close its first half. That was the story for the Padres in the first half, as Black's team failed to score a major league worst 14 times in the first half.

They haven't been blanked in three straight since July 5-7, 1976.

"Our pitching has been really good," Black said. "We've got to get our bats going."

New York took two of three from the Padres earlier this season.

07/18 10:49:40 ET