Wednesday, July 20, 2011

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Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran can make a difference for the New York Mets, but it might not be for much longer.

The hot-hitting duo will try to ignore continued trade rumors and move the Mets above .500 when they face the St. Louis Cardinals in the middle game of this series Wednesday night.

Reyes missed 12 games with a hamstring injury and the flu sidelined Beltran for three while costing him five pounds, but they made an instant impact upon their return Tuesday, totaling five hits and scoring two runs in a 4-2 win over St. Louis (50-46).

"Our lineup certainly changes with those two guys in that order," manager Terry Collins said.

Reyes leads the majors with a .355 average and 15 triples, three more than he totaled over the last two seasons. The All-Star shortstop has been on a tear over his last eight games, going 19 for 35 with two doubles, two tripes and 10 runs.

Beltran is also hitting the ball well, batting .373 with nine doubles, four homers, 15 RBIs and 20 runs in 17 games. He reached base all five times Tuesday with two doubles, two walks and a single.

Beltran is 19 for 36 with two homers and nine RBIs in nine games against the Cardinals, while Reyes has eight extra-base hits among his 15 in the last seven home matchups.

Having Reyes and Beltran back may continue to boost the offense, but it's also rekindling reports of them being dealt heading into the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

R.A. Dickey (4-8, 3.70) is hoping the pair can provide some help while he tries to show some improvement at Citi Field.

The right-hander is 1-6 with a 4.10 ERA in 10 home starts, getting backed by two or fewer runs in seven of them. That's been clearly evident over his past three starts, as he's 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA due to getting four total runs of support.

That defeat came Friday, when Dickey allowed four runs in seven innings of a 7-2 loss to Philadelphia.

"It's part of my nature to be optimistic," Dickey told the team's official website. "I can't say I get tired of looking for silver linings. But I do get tired of losing."

He was superb in a 4-0 win over the Cardinals last July 29, scattering four hits in 8 1/3 innings.

The Cardinals are scheduled to give Kyle McClellan (6-6, 4.24) his first start against the Mets (48-48) and another shot at winning for the first time since May 19. The right-hander is 0-5 with a 6.35 ERA in six starts after going 6-1 with a 3.11 ERA in his first 10 games -- nine starts.

McClellan's latest effort ended in a 4-1 loss to Arizona on July 7, when he allowed all the Diamondbacks' scoring in seven innings. He's not concerned with the inactive stretch.

"I'm always going to try to find the positive. You can look at (the down time) in a negative way as well, but for me, it's a rest," McClellan told the team's official website. "It's almost like having another DL stint. I got 12 days."

He's lost three consecutive decisions with a 4.76 ERA in four road games while getting three total runs of support.

McClellan has had success against New York in eight games out of the bullpen, going 1-0 while allowing one run and seven hits in 9 2/3 innings.

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