(Sports Network) - While it certainly wasn't the goal for the Mets at the start of the season, trying to finish above .500 at least gives the club something to shoot for down the stretch.
New York, though, put itself further away from the mark with a poor showing on Thursday and will try to rebound tonight in the opener of a three-game series with the Chicago Cubs.
The Mets found themselves one game away from evening their season record going into a doubleheader with the Braves, but lost both games to fall to 70-73 on the year. After wasting Jason Bay's grand slam in a 6-5 loss in the first game, New York managed just a sacrifice fly from the outfielder in the first inning of a 5-1 defeat in the nightcap.
Chris Schwinden made his major league debut in the first game and allowed five runs over five innings to take the loss before Dillon Gee yielded three runs -- two earned -- in six-plus frames to suffer defeat in the second game.
"Maybe it's just the grind of my first big league season," said Gee. "Maybe I'm tired but everyone is tired and it's no excuse."
New York opened a nine-game homestand with yesterday's twinbill and will try to find the win column tonight behind Mike Pelfrey, but he has won just once in his last eight games.
Pelfrey is coming off a no-decision in Washington on Sunday, when he allowed three runs on five hits and a season high-tying five walks in 4 2/3 innings. The right-hander was taken off the hook after throwing 106 pitches as the Mets rallied to win, 6-3.
Pelfrey is 7-11 with a 4.68 earned run average this year and has dominated the Cubs in two career games against them. The 27-year-old has won both outings while allowing one run and striking out 11 over 15 innings.
The Cubs aim to deal Pelfrey another loss after posting a 6-3 win over the Reds on Wednesday to win for the third time in four games. Carlos Pena powered his club to the win by blasting a three-run homer in the eighth inning.
"I've been feeling a little more comfortable against lefties as the year has gone on," Pena told Chicago's website. "I've put in a lot of work in the cage. I still have a long way to go. I never believe that I have it figure out. It's just a work in progress at all times."
Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run double and D.J. LeMahieu added an RBI single in the victory.
Chicago may need Pena's big bat again this evening considering that Casey Coleman is 0-4 with a 7.28 earned run average in his last eight appearances, including six starts. Chicago has lost all eight games and Coleman himself is winless since May 19.
The 24-year-old lost three straight starts upon his return to the rotation on Aug. 17 before getting a no-decision versus the Pirates on Saturday. Coleman did pitch well enough to win, allowing one earned run on six hits and three walks in six innings before the bullpen gave the game away.
Coleman is 2-7 with a 6.61 ERA in 15 games this year and that includes a rough loss to the Mets on May 25. Facing them for the first time in his career, the righty was rocked for six runs over just 1 1/3 innings of work in a loss.
The Cubs won two of three at home over the Mets in May and have won four of the last six meetings overall.