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Mets Hope Citi Field Provides Elixir For Ailing Offense

(Sports Network) - After a disastrous road trip, the New York Mets return home in the hopes of finding their offense. Too bad they have St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright waiting for them.

Wainwright will look to extend his scoreless innings streak this evening in the opener of a three-game series with the Mets at Citi Field.

The right-handed Wainwright has not allowed a run in his last 25 innings, including three straight scoreless outings. He has given up just one run over his last five starts, spanning 35 1/3 innings, and won four outings in a row before a no-decision versus the Phillies on Thursday.

Wainwright pitched six scoreless innings versus Philadelphia, working around six hits without a walk and six strikeouts. He is 14-5 on the season with a 1.94 earned run average and is second in the National League with wins.

The 28-year-old has lost all five of his games on the road, where he is 4-5 in 10 starts with a 2.82 ERA. After making two career relief outings versus the Mets, Wainwright started against them on April 18 and went in the distance in a victory, yielding three runs - two earned - on four hits and two walks with nine strikeouts.

Tonight, Wainwright faces a Mets team that has been held to four runs or fewer in 15 of their last 16 games and is coming off Sunday's 1-0 setback to Los Angeles that ended New York's road trip out west with a 2-9 record.

"It's frustrating right now," said the Mets' David Wright about his team's offensive struggles. "We have good at-bats but we don't see the results. We've got good pitching but we're not scoring many runs."

R.A. Dickey started for the Mets and did not allow a run over his 5 2/3 innings of work, but exited early due to a left leg injury.

New York is just 20-33 on the road this year compared to 28-17 at home, with tonight's starter going 3-2 with a 3.23 ERA in nine starts at Citi Field.

Niese has lost his last two decisions since winning five straight and got a no-decision versus the Diamondbacks on Wednesday. The 23-year-old lefty gave up three solo homers and six hits in all over five innings, striking out six.

Niese is 6-4 with a 3.54 ERA this year and will try to shake off his memory of his first and only other career start versus the Cardinals. He faced them on Aug. 5 and exited after 1 2/3 innings due to a season-ending hamstring tear.

The Cardinals will try to get to Niese early as they try for a second victory in a row after halting a three-game skid with Sunday's extra-inning win over the Cubs. Felipe Lopez hit a two-out solo homer in the 11th inning to get his team the victory, their ninth in 13 games.

"It was a 3-2 count. I was just trying to get on base," recalled Lopez. "I felt confident and [Chicago's Brian Schlitter] threw me a fastball. I put a good swing on it."

Albert Pujols also deposited a solo home run while Skip Schumaker went 4-for-4 and drove in a run.

The Cardinals won three of four at home over the Mets on April 16-18, but lost four of six in New York a season ago.