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Mets' Wheeler out to prove Giants made a mistake

9:59 AM, Jul 10, 2013   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - Zack Wheeler will finally get a chance to flash his stuff in front of a crowd at AT&T Park. However, the highly-regarded prospect will be doing so in a New York Mets uniform looking to pitch his club to its first three-game road sweep of the San Francisco Giants in 19 years.

Wheeler takes the hill for the Mets on Wednesday afternoon in the finale of this series against the franchise that made him a first-round draft pick in 2009. He impressed the Giants enough as a hard-throwing high school prospect out of Georgia that they took him sixth overall and built up enough of a reputation in the minors that he landed the Giants established star outfielder Carlos Beltran in a trade with the Mets on July 28, 2011.

The Giants knew they were hurting their future a bit by trading Wheeler and it stung even more when Beltran signed as a free agent with the St. Louis Cardinals following the season.

"It's going to be pretty cool to pitch against the organization I was drafted by. It'll be fun," Wheeler told MLB.com.

"I definitely want to go out there and do well for myself and maybe show them what they could have had, I guess," Wheeler said. "That would be fun."

After rising through the minors and getting named the sixth-best prospect in baseball by MLB.com prior to this season, the 23-year-old is 2-1 with a 4.29 earned run average through his first four career starts, giving up four homers and walking 13 to 16 strikeouts in 21 innings. Wheeler is coming off a win over Milwaukee last Friday, when he allowed three runs -- one earned -- on seven hits and three walks over five innings.

"I'm definitely happy about my outing," the right-hander said. "Even though there were some low points -- falling behind, throwing 20 pitches an inning and only going five -- I battled out there as best as I could, and got a good result."

Matt Cain did not have good results last time out for the Giants and will be looking to bounce back yet again on Thursday.

Cain is 5-5 with a 4.85 ERA in 18 starts this season, but seemed to be turning a corner with a five-start stretch from June 7-29 in which he went 1-1 but with a 1.82 ERA.

However, the 28-year-old righty lasted just 2 1/3 innings versus the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, charged with eight runs on six hits and four walks in what was his shortest outing of the season.

Cain is 5-4 with a 3.61 ERA in 10 previous encounters with the Mets, who are looking for their first sweep in San Francisco since July 4-6, 1994.

New York has won three in a row overall and followed up Monday's 16-inning victory with a 10-6 triumph on Tuesday night. Marlon Byrd's seventh career grand slam in the eighth inning broke open a close game, while Anthony Recker added a two-run homer in the contest.

Scott Rice stranded a pair of runners in the seventh to earn the win behind Dillon Gee, who struggled through 6 2/3 innings having allowed five runs on nine hits and five walks.

"(Gee) got us deep into the game, which we needed to have," Mets manager Terry Collins said after using six relievers in Monday's game. "It saved the rest of our guys in the bullpen."

David Wright had two of New York's 12 hits to extend his hitting streak to 10 games.

Giants starter Barry Zito was also lit up for five runs on seven hits and four free passes in his six-inning start. The left-hander is winless in his last seven outings for the defending World Series champions.

Pablo Sandoval had two RBI for San Francisco, which has dropped 13 of its last 15 to fall a season-high nine games under .500.

"Our issue has been scoring runs. Tonight we had some good at-bats and put some runs on the board, but the pitching wasn't there," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

The Giants have fallen into last place in the NL West, 6 1/2 games behind front-running Arizona.

San Francisco split its eight matchups with the Mets last season.

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