Mets aim for second second straight win over Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- Right-handers Jacob deGrom and Johnny Cueto go head-to-head for the first time since the 2015 World Series when the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants continue their three-game series Saturday night.

The Mets won the series opener 11-4 on Friday behind a season best-tying 20 hits, snapping a four-game losing streak.

"We have our work cut out for us," Mets manager Terry Collins said of the club's big picture, which showed his team a season-worst 10 games under .500 at the start of play Friday. "They know what they have to do. Our backs are to the wall. This was the first step."

Pitching then for the Kansas City Royals, Cueto got the better of deGrom in Game 2 of the 2015 World Series, throwing a complete-game two-hitter in a 7-1 victory.

The Royals went on to win the best-of-seven series 4-1.

Signed as a high-priced free agent by the Giants last season, Cueto has not retained his championship form in 2017. He's won just once in his last nine starts, allowing a 4.13 ERA over that stretch.

Cueto will take the mound with a 5-7 record, the first time he's had a losing slate this late in the season since he was a rookie in 2008.

He was 11-1 for the Giants on this date last season.

Cueto has faced the Mets once since the World Series duel and was nearly as effective in an 8-1 Giants home win last August. He allowed one run on eight hits over seven innings in that game, outdueling Seth Lugo.

He has a 4-4 record and 3.75 ERA in 12 career starts against the Mets.

Cueto might have the recent history, but the Mets will employ the hot pitcher Saturday in deGrom. He has been dominant in each of his last two starts, beating the Chicago Cubs 6-1 with a complete-game five-hitter, then silencing the Washington Nationals over eight innings, allowing just an unearned run in a 5-1 win.

In earning National League Player of the Week honors, deGrom (6-3, 3.94 ERA) became the first Mets pitcher since Bartolo Colon in 2015 to throw eight or more innings in back-to-back starts. He'd never done it previously in his career.

An All-Star in 2015, deGrom was roughed up for six hits and four runs in the World Series loss to Cueto and the Royals.

The Mets complained about umpire Mark Carlson's strike zone that night, and Saturday they'll have another potential issue with the guy behind the plate. Cueto has never lost with Marvin Hudson calling the balls and strikes, going 4-0 with a 2.45 ERA in five starts.

Striking out 38 batters in 32 1/3 innings along the way, deGrom has a 3-1 record and 3.62 ERA in five career starts against the Giants.

On a night that began with second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera claiming he planned to request a trade from the Mets, it was the Giants who walked off the field Friday in a bit of disarray.

"We scored four runs," Giants manager Bruce Bochy demanded when asked if Thursday's rain-delayed late start at Atlanta and cross-country flight could be used as an excuse for Friday's lackluster effort. "Those guys (the Mets) had to play at night (in Los Angeles), too."
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