Injuries and illnesses appear to be taking a toll on the New York Mets' lineup. Mike Pelfrey, though, hasn't received much help from it recently.
He'll try to help the Mets overcome those key absences on Wednesday night when they continue their four-game road set against the Pittsburgh Pirates.The Mets (28-23), losers of seven of their last nine on the road, have shortstop Jose Reyes (calf), first baseman Carlos Delgado (hip), right fielder Ryan Church (hamstring) and reserve left fielder Angel Pagan (groin) on the disabled list.Those absences have been compounded by a stomach virus that's sidelined Carlos Beltran for three straight games, including Tuesday's 3-1 loss. John Maine was also hit by the bug, but still managed to pitch six shutout innings in Sunday's 3-2 win over Florida.New York followed that with an 8-5 loss to open this series.The Mets have lost three of their last five while hitting .224 and getting outscored 21-14. Overall, though, their .279 average ranks among the best teams in the majors.But Pelfrey (4-1, 3.88 ERA) has become accustomed to getting little help of late. Over his last four starts, the right-hander has gone 0-1 with a 2.28 ERA and has received only four runs to work with.On Friday, he yielded one run and five hits with struck out six in 7 2-3 innings of a 2-1, 11-inning win over the Marlins."My command was good but it wasn't as down as I'd like," Pelfrey said. "I know if I can pound the strike zone I can go deep into games and not walk guys."Pelfrey, who hasn't won since beating Philadelphia 7-5 on May 7, has put together a stretch of five quality starts. He's also given up three runs or less in his last seven, going 3-1 with a 2.96 ERA.He won his only career start against the Pirates on Aug. 15, scattering seven hits in seven scoreless innings of a 2-1 win at PNC Park.The Pirates (24-28) are looking to take advantage of New York's absences and win their third consecutive game.Pittsburgh hopes right-hander Ross Ohlendorf (5-5, 4.45) can avoid a personal three-game slide after giving up four runs and eight hits in five innings of Friday's 6-1 loss to Houston."He wasn't as sharp," Pirates manager John Russell told the team's official Web site. "He left some balls out over the plate more than he's accustomed to, and that cost him some runs. He's throwing the ball very well for us. (Friday) was just one of those nights where he wasn't as sharp."Ohlendorf has been solid at home, going 3-2 with a 3.72 ERA in five outings.He'll get his first start against the Mets after failing to get a decision in two relief outings with the New York Yankees, giving up 10 runs and eight hits in 1 2-3 innings.