Two surprise teams trying to stay in contention meet to begin a three-game interleague series tonight when the Baltimore Orioles visit Citi Field to face the New York Mets.
The Orioles, who've finished last in the American League East Division for four straight seasons, are near the top of the group thus far in 2012, trailing the first-place New York Yankees by just 1 1/2 games.
Baltimore maintained the pace over the weekend at Atlanta, where it won two of three, including Sunday's rubber match in which Wei-Yin Chen tossed seven shutout innings in a 2-0 triumph.
Chen (7-2) allowed six hits, one walk and struck out two to earn the win. He threw 70 of his 101 pitches for strikes.
Darren O'Day, Troy Patton and Pedro Strop combined for a scoreless eighth and Jim Johnson collected his 20th save of the season with a perfect ninth inning.
Adam Jones went 2-for-3 with a run scored and Steve Pearce scored on a balk for the Orioles, who have won seven of eight.
"We're just trying to win each game," Jones said. "Obviously that's not possible but that's our mindset. We won the series which is huge. (Sunday) was the rubber match for both teams and we were able to come out and get the series.
"You got to tip your hat to (Atlanta's Randall) Delgado. He pitched a good game but we were able to get that run early and Wei-Yin was just sensational."
The Mets have been no better than fourth in the National League East since 2008, but they're hanging tough through the early stages this season and sit just 4 1/2 games in back of the equally surprising Washington Nationals.
New York's chances took a slight hit over the weekend, however, when it dropped three straight games to visiting Cincinnati.
On Sunday, Johnny Cueto gave up just one run and struck out eight to lead the Reds to a 3-1 win to complete the sweep.
Josh Thole had two hits and Ike Davis scored for the Mets, who have lost last four straight at home.
Chris Young (1-1) lost for the first time since June 14, 2009, after giving up three runs - two earned - on nine hits over seven innings.
New York will try to stop the skid with early-season ace R.A. Dickey, the 37- year-old knuckleballing phenomenon who's not lost since April 18.
Dickey was 2-1 after being touched for eight runs in 4 1/3 innings by Atlanta, but has since won eight straight decisions over 10 starts while lowering his earned run average from 5.71 to 2.20.
In his last start, on June 13 at Tampa Bay, he went the full nine innings and allowed a single unearned run on one hit, while striking out a season-high 12 in a 9-1 defeat of the Rays.
Dickey, who entered the season with 41 wins since debuting with Texas in 2001, is just one away from personal single-season high of 11, set in 2010.
He's 1-2 in six career meetings with the Orioles.
Baltimore counters with third-year righty Jake Arrieta, who emerged with 10 wins in 22 starts last season but has struggled to regain that success.
The 26-year-old was 2-2 after a 5-0 blanking of the New York Yankees on May 2 in the Bronx, but he went on to lose six straight decisions before finally breaking through to defeat Pittsburgh on June 13.
In that win, Arrieta allowed a run on seven hits in seven innings of a 7-1 triumph.
He's 1-3 in six road starts this season and has never faced the Mets.
New York has won 16 of 25 interleague games between the teams, including three straight when they last met at Camden Yards in 2010.