A perennial Cy Young Award candidate takes on one of the front-runners in the 2012 National League field when the Philadelphia Phillies visit the New York Mets for the first of a three-game series.
The Phillies start the set with left-hander Cliff Lee, the 2008 Cy Young winner in the American League and a two-time top-10 finisher for the honor in the AL (2005, 2010) along with a third-place finish in the NL in 2011.
New York counters with knuckleballing righty R.A. Dickey, who's already won a career-best 18 games and is considered among the top contenders for the 2012 award along with Washington's Gio Gonzalez and Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto.
Lee is 3-1 in seven career starts against the Mets with a stingy 2.25 earned run average across 48 innings while posting a .233 batting average.
He began the season with just one win in his initial seven starts, but has since won four of the last five across nine starts while trimming his ERA from 3.95 to 3.36.
In his last game, against Miami on Sept. 12, he tossed seven innings and allowed an unearned run in seven innings of a 3-1 defeat of the Marlins.
He's lasted at least seven innings in eight of his last 10 starts, in which the Phillies have gone 7-3.
For the Mets, Dickey, who entered the season with 41 wins in 204 big-league appearances, got win No. 18 of 2012 with a 6-2 victory at St. Louis on Sept. 5.
He allowed two runs on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings of the victory, in which he walked one batter and struck out five.
His initial chance at win No. 19 came six days later against Washington and ended in a 5-3 loss after he was touched for three runs on eight hits in seven innings.
Dickey is 3-3 in eight career starts against the Phillies with a 2.94 ERA.
On Sunday in Houston, Matt Dominguez's two-run single in the seventh inning proved to be difference, as the Astros held on to beat the Phillies, 7-6.
Philadelphia arrived at Minute Maid Park on a seven-game winning streak that put the club back into playoff contention. But the Phillies dropped three of four to the MLB-worst Astros and are now four games out in the race for the National League's second wild-card spot.
In Milwaukee, Ryan Braun hit two homers, Wily Peralta pitched eight shutout innings and John Axford closed it out in the ninth as the Brewers blanked the Mets 3-0 to take the rubber match of a three-game set.
The Mets managed only two hits, both off of Peralta (2-0), who made just the third start of his career. He fanned five and walked only one.
Chris Young (4-8) pitched well, but gave up three homers to account for all of the Brewers' runs. He lasted 6 2/3 innings, giving up eight hits while striking out two.
The Mets won 10 of the first 15 games between the teams in 2012, while the Phillies were an 11-7 winner in the 2011 series against New York.