The National League Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals are set to begin a four-game set with the visiting New York Mets on Monday at Busch Stadium.
The Cardinals are in the midst of a 10-game homestand that will wind down in Milwaukee this weekend. They have won eight of their last 10 games overall but are coming off Sunday's 8-2 setback to Colorado.
The Cards bats were unable to solve Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa, who tossed 6 2/3 innings of no-hit ball. St. Louis starter Jaime Garcia was tagged for a season-high five earned runs, which included home runs served up to Troy Tulowitzki and Charlie Blackmon. Garcia was unable to follow up shutouts in the previous two starts from teammates Adam Wainwright and Shelby Miller, who had combined to allow just three hits.
"Those were definitely pretty tough acts to follow," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "But lately, we've been running up against guys that are throwing the ball well."
The Mets suffered a three-game home sweep at the hands of Pittsburgh over the weekend, and they have dropped 11 of 15 overall. The offense managed only four hits in Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Pirates. With runners on the corners in the bottom of the ninth inning, Ike Davis struck out and then Lucas Duda grounded out to end the game.
"We're getting hit now with a two-headed monster: we're not hitting and we're not pitching," Collins said. "Certainly we've got to get it going, and there's no secret formula how to do it. You've got to go out and work your butt off and execute."
The Mets will hand the ball to Jeremy Hefner, who is winless in six starts this season. After back-to-back solid starts, Hefner allowed four runs on eight hits against the White Sox last week to come away with his fourth loss.
"It's very frustrating. The bottom line though is that I'm tired of losing," Hefner said. "I need to get better and I need to make better pitches."
For the Cardinals, right-hander Lance Lynn looks to rebound from his first regular-season loss since Sept. 7, 2012. He had his 10-game regular-season win streak snapped against the Cubs last week despite allowing just two earned runs on four hits in seven innings of work. Lynn also fanned eight batters in that start.
"That's tough to swallow with how good I felt," Lynn said. "That's the fun part, and the not-so-fun part, about this game. You can pitch well and lose and pitch bad and win."
The Mets took four of seven meetings last season behind a 34-18 run differential.