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Mets gear up to face Stanton, Marlins

NEW YORK -- The good news for the New York Mets is they no longer have to worry about facing Aaron Judge this season. The bad news is Friday marks the first of six times they will have to deal with Giancarlo Stanton over the final six weeks of the 2017 campaign.

The Mets will look to quiet the hottest hitter in the game Friday night when Stanton and the Miami Marlins arrive in New York for a three-game series at Citi Field.

New York right-hander Chris Flexen (2-1, 7.02 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Miami left-hander Justin Nicolino (1-1, 4.56 ERA).

The Mets enter Friday fresh off four consecutive losses to the New York Yankees, who swept the Subway Series for the first time since 2003 by earning a 7-5 win at Citi Field on Thursday night. The Mets (53-66) are at least 13 games below .500 for the first time since ending the 2013 season at 74-88.

Miami was off Thursday following an 8-1 win over the visiting San Francisco Giants on Wednesday. The Marlins (58-61) will try Friday to move within two games of .500 for the first time since they were 12-14 on May 3.

Stanton's historic run hit the mildest of hiccups Wednesday, when he went 2-for-4 but saw his streak of games with a home run end at six, just two shy of the all-time record shared by Marlins manager Don Mattingly, Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. and Dale Long.

Stanton has a remarkable 23 homers in his past 36 games dating back to July 5 and leads the majors with a franchise-record 44 homers.

"What Giancarlo has been doing is just incredible," Mattingly said after Stanton homered in a 9-4 loss to the Giants on Tuesday. "He's right on a lot of balls. He's very dangerous right now."

Nobody knows that better than Mets manager Terry Collins, whose pitching staff just "limited" Judge, the American League's home run leader, to two round-trippers in four games.

Stanton has 32 homers in 102 career games against New York.

"Giancarlo, he's hurt us enough in the past to know that he can be so dangerous," Collins said Thursday. "We're going to try to be very, very careful with him."

Flexen, a rookie making his fifth career start, will be the first line of defense against Stanton. The 23-year-old won his second consecutive start Sunday when he allowed two runs over five innings as the Mets beat the Phillies 6-2 in Philadelphia.

Nicolino earned his first win as a starter in more than 15 months on Saturday, when he allowed two runs (one earned) over 5 1/3 innings as the Marlins beat the Colorado Rockies 4-3.

The victory was Nicolino's first since Sept. 13, 2016, when he tossed two scoreless innings of relief in the Marlins' win over the Atlanta Braves, and his first as a starter since May 3, 2016, when he allowed four runs over six innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Flexen has never faced the Marlins. Nicolino is 0-1 with a 5.29 ERA in five career appearances (three starts) against the Mets.

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