Padres hope for series split in Flushing

After watching the New York Mets rally for back-to-back game series, the San Diego Padres were able to end the brief slide with last night's big win.

San Diego now shoots for a four-game split with the homestanding Mets this afternoon from Citi Field. It had a season high-tying four-game winning streak stopped with Monday's 9-8 loss, then dropped a 5-4 decision the following night. The Padres lined themselves up for a series split with Wednesday's 9-5 triumph, as Will Venable led the way with four hits, three runs scored and an RBI. Cameron Maybin drove in two runs and Jesus Guzman ended 2-for-4 with an RBI and a pair of runs scored.

"With the start I got off to, it brought me to where I am now," said Venable. "Things are going good right now, so hopefully we can win a few more games."

Guzman extended his hitting streak to 11 games for the Padres, who are 4-2 on a 10-game road trip that concludes this weekend at Cincinnati. Maybin has hit safely in 20 of his 25 games since the All-Star break. Padres starter Aaron Harang held on for the win despite permitting three runs on 10 hits and two walks over 5 2/3 frames. Four San Diego relievers, including closer Heath Bell, combined to allow two runs -- one earned -- the rest of the way.

Cory Luebke tries to build off a strong start when he takes the mound Thursday for the Friars. Luebke struck out nine batters over seven innings of one-run ball in a 13-2 drubbing at Pittsburgh on Saturday, lifting his 2011 record to 4-6 with a 3.06 ERA in 37 games (8 starts). He ended a personal three-game losing streak and will face the Mets for the first time in his career.

New York had won three of four games since a five-game slide and fell back into the loss column with Wednesday's defeat. Josh Thole collected four hits, Ruben Tejada ended 3-for-5 with a run scored and starting pitcher R.A. Dickey drove in a run for the Mets.

Dickey fell to 5-11 this season on the hill and was reached for five runs -- three earned -- and six hits. The righty has lost three straight starts.

"There were a lot of parts of this game (that didn't go right)," said Mets manager Terry Collins. "We had 15 hits, four walks, and when you look up and you score only five runs, it is not a good night."

Jason Bay went 0-for-4 with a run scored and saw his hitting streak end at 11 games. He batted .439 with nine runs, three home runs and nine RBI during the run and was trying to break his career-long hit streak of 14 games in 2005. On the milestone watch, Mets closer Jason Isringhausen is still one save shy of becoming the 23rd member of the 300-save club.

Mets center fielder Angel Pagan left the game in the fourth inning with spasms in his lower back and is day-to-day. He is batting .247 this season with a .314 on-base percentage and a .367 slugging percentage.

"Why would I keep going and have something worse and who knows what happens?" Pagan said on the club's site. "Obviously I'm the only guy to lead off for the team, so I don't want to be out for many games."

The Mets are 3-5 on a rain-shortened nine-game homestand and will visit Arizona and San Diego on an upcoming six-game road trip. They will send Jonathon Niese to the bump tonight and he's 4-1 in his last five decisions. Niese barely got by for a win in Saturday's 11-7 triumph over Atlanta, as he lasted five innings and allowed five runs and 11 hits.

Niese, who is 11-8 with a 4.12 ERA in 24 games (23 starts) this season, beat the Padres the only time he faced them in a 3-0 win last June 10 at Citi Field. The lefty tossed a one-hit shutout in that one and struck out six.

San Diego and New York are meeting for the first time since splitting six matchups a year ago. The Padres have won eight of the previous 14 meetings with the Mets.