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NYM@SF: Colon fans four, gives up one earned run

The Padres continue their eight-game road trip at Citi Field this weekend, where the Mets have won three of their last six, despite being 2-8 in their last 10 games.

Besides a few hiccups this season, Bartolo Colon (5-5, 4.31 ERA) has been strong for the Mets, especially in his last four outings in which he's only given up five earned runs in 28 innings and has three wins. In that span, he has a 1.61 ERA -- which is second in the National League since May 17 -- and the team has gone 3-1 with him on the mound.

He's also been good at home, where spacious Citi Field has helped him limit fly-ball damage. In four starts in New York, he has a 2.30 ERA with an incredible 13.5 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Colon is 1-2 with a 1.50 ERA in his career against the Padres.

San Diego counters with Andrew Cashner, who is making his second start since coming off the disabled list last Saturday. When he took the mound against the Nationals, Cashner wasn't under a strict pitch count. But since the righty had spent three weeks on the disabled list with right elbow soreness, manager Bud Black wasn't willing to take risks.

Cashner showed Black he was capable of handling big league hitters, though. After running into some first-inning trouble, he retired the next 16 batters he faced. Cashner exited after six innings with 70 pitches under his belt and five strikeouts on the board. He only gave up two hits and a walk in his eighth quality start of the year, which lowered his season ERA to 2.13.

Even though he was sidelined with an elbow injury, opponents haven't fazed Cashner all season. He was 2-5 with a 2.35 ERA, 47 strikeouts and 17 walks in nine starts before being placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 17. It wasn't for lack of trying, though, for he only gave up more than two earned runs in one game this season -- on April 21 vs. the Brewers. He's been a casualty of his team's inability to score.

Though the Padres managed some extra-inning heroics in Cashner's last start, when they beat the Nationals 4-3 in 11 frames, the team is on a four-game losing streak. If the offense manages to back up its ace, it will avoid a season-high losing streak of five games.

Padres: Offense in seasonlong slump
Although the Padres' pitching continues to give them a chance to win, their offense is preventing them from doing so. The team is last in the Major Leagues in batting average (.216), slugging percentage (.344), on-base percentage (.275) and runs (200). They're also last in the big leagues in hits with 470. The 29th ranked Cubs have scored 32 more runs.

In its last 10 games, San Diego has scored just 17 runs.

The 2014 Padres offense is also historically one of the worst producing offenses in league history. Their 3.03 runs per game average is lower than any team in baseball since 1972, when the Angels (2.93) and Rangers (2.99) all averaged lower.

Mets: Leadoff hitter in flux
On Thursday, manager Terry Collins penciled in Daniel Murphy at the top of the batting order, his third different leadoff hitter in four games. Murphy is on a six-game hitting streak and has hits in nine of the Mets' last 10 games. His June batting average is .333 (15-for-45).

He also leads the NL with 23 first-inning hits.

"[Murphy] will always be a good hitter," said Collins. "Plate discipline has allowed him to be very dangerous. Because he's getting base on balls I think pitchers are realizing they've got to come on the plate more and I think he's doing more damage because of that. Why wouldn't you want your hottest up there as many times as you can get him up?"

Worth noting
• The Padres own a 21-4 record this season when scoring four or more runs. The Friars' .840 winning percentage in these decisions is fifth-best in Major League Baseball and fourth-best in the National League, behind only Washington (29-2), Milwaukee (33-6) and San Francisco (33-6).

• The Mets haven't lost a season series to the Padres since 2009 -- but it has been close. In the last four years, the Mets have edged San Diego with a 4-3 record each season.

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