Lefty Jonathon Niese tries for two straight victories after a prolonged losing skid on Tuesday night when the New York Mets host the Cincinnati Reds in the second of three games between the teams at Citi Field.
Niese, a 13-game winner in 30 starts last season, opened 2013 with two wins in three starts before a five-start stretch that saw him go 0-4 and his earned run average jump by more than two full runs between April 18 and May 11.
He gave up eight runs in a 4 1/3-inning start against Pittsburgh to close the skid, then broke through for a 5-2 defeat of the St. Louis Cardinals on May 16.
The 26-year-old Ohio native has won once in four career starts against his home-state team, allowing 16 runs on 30 hits in 25 2/3 innings.
Niese is 1-2 in five home starts in 2013.
The Reds reply with righty Mike Leake, who goes for a second straight win and a third in four starts this month.
The Californian, a first-round pick in 2009, was 1-2 in five starts through the end of April, then opened May with a 5 2/3-inning outing that yielded a 6-5 win over the Chicago Cubs on May 3.
He went seven innings in a 7-2 loss to Atlanta five days later, but rebounded again with 6 2/3 scoreless innings in a 4-0 defeat of the Miami Marlins in his last start on May 15.
Leake, who's 2-1 in four road starts this spring, is 1-1 in four career meetings with the Mets.
On Monday, Jay Bruce belted the go-ahead homer in the sixth inning and Aroldis Chapman made it stand up in the ninth inning, as the Reds held on for a 4-3 win.
Bruce and Brandon Phillips each drove in two runs, and Johnny Cueto (2-0) returned from the disabled list and fanned eight over five innings to get the win. Cueto had been sidelined with a strained right lat.
He last started April 13 in a 3-1 loss against Pittsburgh, but on Monday the right-hander gave up just three hits and as many runs while walking four batters.
The Reds have won eight of their last 10 games.
Chapman, who blew his past two save opportunities, including Sunday when giving up back-to-back ninth inning homers at Philadelphia, fanned two in a 1-2-3 final frame for his ninth save of the year.
Shaun Marcum (0-5) allowed six hits and the four runs, while fanning seven in taking the loss in the opener of this three-game series. Marlon Byrd belted a three-run homer.
The Reds won six of eight games with the Mets last season, while New York was a winner in five of seven meetings in 2011.