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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, May 22nd (All times Eastern)

New York Mets (22-20) at Pittsburgh Pirates (20-22), 7:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: New York - R.A. Dickey (5-1, 3.75) Pittsburgh - James McDonald (3-2, 2.68)

(Sports Network) - Lanky right-hander James McDonald can continue the best start of his career tonight when the Pittsburgh Pirates host the New York Mets in the middle test of a three-game series at PNC Park.

McDonald, who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 195 pounds, opened the season with a loss in his initial four starts - but has subsequently won three of his last four outings while paring his earned run average to 2.68 in 50 1/3 innings.

He struck out a season-high 11 batters at Washington - up from the 10 he K'd on April 30 at Atlanta - while allowing three runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 5-3 triumph on May 17.

His only loss since April 25 was a 1-0 decision against Houston on May 11, when he struck out eight, walked two and gave up four hits.

In eight career meetings with the Mets, McDonald is 1-1.

New York goes with right-hander R.A. Dickey, who aims for a fourth straight victory and sixth straight start without a loss.

The former first-round draft pick - 18th overall, 1996 - was 2-1 this season after dropping a 14-6 verdict at Atlanta on April 18 and has since responded with three wins in five starts.

He defeated Miami, Arizona and Miami again on April 25, May 6 and May 12, while getting no-decisions against Houston and Cincinnati and raising his career record to 46-51 in 212 big-league appearances.

Dickey is 1-2 in five career meetings with the Pirates.

On Monday, Clint Barmes drove in the go-ahead run with an eighth-inning sacrifice fly and the Pirates rallied for a 5-4 win.

Michael McKenry hit a game-tying two-run homer in the seventh and Jared Hughes (1-0) stranded a pair of the top of the eighth to earn the win. Joel Hanrahan picked up his 10th save of the season while starter Erik Bedard allowed four runs on six hits over five innings.

"4-0 down with (Johan) Santana on the mound? That's not the way I drew it up driving to the park today," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "But the boys were able to chip away."

The Mets scored all of their runs in the second inning, which was highlighted by a two-run single from Justin Turner. David Wright improved his average to .415 with a pair of hits.

Jon Rauch (3-3) gave up the sac fly to Barmes to take the loss and Santana allowed four runs over 6 1/3 innings.

New York and Pittsburgh split eight meetings in 2011, with each team winning twice on the other's home field.

05/22 11:02:48 ET