As the New York Mets' search for offensive reinforcement continues, the immediate focus is just winning a series for the first time in more than two weeks.
They can do so Thursday - and no longer with Carlos Gomez coming on board - against a visiting San Diego Padres team still listening to offers as the trade deadline approaches.
While New York's three-game winning streak was ending with Wednesday's 7-3 loss, it reportedly acquired Gomez from Milwaukee for pitcher Zack Wheeler and infielder Wilmer Flores. However, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said after the game that the deal for the two-time All-Star center fielder will not happen.
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"There is no trade," Alderson said. "Unfortunately social media, etc., got ahead of the facts."
Seeking its first series win since sweeping Arizona from July 10-12, New York (52-49) remains in need of a big-name bat prior to Friday's deadline. The majors' lowest-scoring offense (356 runs) was held to three or fewer runs for the ninth time in 12 games despite three more homers from Lucas Duda on Wednesday.
He's the second player in club history to accomplish the feat after Kirk Nieuwenhuis on July 12.
Each of Duda's six hits in 16 at-bats over the last four games have left the park. He has seven homers and 14 RBIs while batting .329 in 24 games against San Diego (48-53).
Duda is 2 for 5 with two doubles when facing Andrew Cashner (4-10, 3.93 ERA), who has allowed 10 runs and 19 hits in 10 2-3 innings to lose both career starts against New York. The right-hander yielded six of those runs and 11 hits but struck out 12 without a walk in 4 2-3 innings of a 7-0 defeat June 1.
Though Cashner is 0-2 with a 5.10 ERA in his last five road starts, he's helped his potential trade value by going 2-1 with a 2.60 ERA in his last four overall.
"Keep getting better each time I go out," he told MLB's official website.
Cashner beat Miami on Friday, giving up a run in seven innings of a 3-1 victory.
"You look here in this clubhouse, he is one of our biggest competitors," first baseman Yonder Alonso said.
Also mentioned as a possible trade target, perhaps for the Mets, three-time All-Star Justin Upton homered for the second time in three games and had three RBIs on Wednesday. Upton, who leads the Padres with 17 home runs and has 53 RBIs, is batting .327 with nine RBIs in his last 12 games at Citi Field.
"My job is to come here and I'm a Padre, and I'm going to go play a baseball game as a Padre," he said.
He's hitting .391 (9 for 23) against Jonathon Niese (5-9, 3.75), who is looking to bounce back from his shortest start of the season.
Instead of attending the birth of his second child in Ohio on Friday, Niese gave up six runs and eight hits in three innings of a 7-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"I know he wanted to be with his wife, especially today," catcher Kevin Plawecki said of Niese, who was 2-2 with a 2.01 ERA in his previous seven starts. "It showed his character to even want to be here and compete, and I think he gave 110 percent and that's all we can ask."
The left-hander's 2.04 ERA against the Padres is his lowest against any opponent, but he hasn't faced them since 2013.