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SD@LAD: Despaigne fans seven over seven vs. Dodgers

Odrisamer Despaigne has been impressive thus far in his young Major League career -- posting a 1.35 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in four starts -- but when he takes to the Petco Park mound on Sunday afternoon opposite fellow right-hander Zack Wheeler, the Mets simply will be looking to add him to their list.

That list -- which includes All-Stars Yu Darvish, Julio Teheran and Henderson Alvarez -- is full of pitchers New York has beat up during its current rampage. Despite dropping Saturday's contest, 6-0, the Mets are winners of nine of their last 12 games, vaulting them back into the outside edge of the National League East picture. A win on Sunday would give them a fourth straight series win.

More recently, that success has come with a consistent lineup that features, among others, Curtis Granderson at the top and Travis d'Arnaud in the five-hole. Manager Terry Collins has filled out the same first eight names in four of the team's last five games, with last Sunday's first-half finale the only exception.

The Mets entered Saturday with a .427 slugging percentage in July, a mark good for sixth-best in the Majors. That's an immense improvement over their previous monthly slugging marks of .319 (March/April), .375 (May) and .381 (June).

"They're feeling good about themselves right now, and therefore they're having more good days than bad days," Collins said. "So we're going to leave it alone.

"When things are going good, you really don't worry about much. You ride the ride."

Now they'll try to take Despaigne for a ride, though that might not be so easy. He's fresh off a start in which he limited the Dodgers to two runs in seven innings, striking out seven to tie his high this season, his first stateside after defecting from Cuba. That effort might have been good enough for a win if the other pitcher hadn't been Clayton Kershaw.

Despaigne has lasted at least six innings and allowed no more than two runs in each of his four Major League starts.

Wheeler, meanwhile, will be making his first start of the second half after looking more and more like the top-of-the-rotation arm the organization projected him to be. His numbers on the season are good but not spectacular -- 3.90 ERA, 1.36 WHIP and just under a strikeout per inning -- though that has changed during the last month.

In his last five starts, a stretch that began on June 19 with his shutout of Miami, Wheeler has a 2.67 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. Those would be even better if not for a two-inning, six-run outing against the A's last month.

Wheeler limited the Marlins to one run in 6 2/3 innings in his most recent start, on July 11. San Diego touched him for four runs in five innings on June 14.

Mets: Eveland in bullpen's upper crust
Among the unsung heroes of New York's bullpen resurgence is veteran left-hander Dana Eveland, whom the Mets signed to a non-guaranteed Minor League deal this spring. After pitching in Korea last season and returning to unemployment, Eveland finally hooked on with the Mets in late May and has done little but succeed since.

Eveland entered Saturday with a 2.30 ERA in 14 appearances, striking out nearly a batter per inning. He and Josh Edgin have established themselves as legitimate left-handed options at the back end of games.

"He's done a very good job," Collins said. "He's got enough arm. You look at him, he's been 90, 92 [mph]. He's got a good slider, which has been his signature pitch. He's done a nice job."

Padres: Quackenbush, Thayer favorites for setup role
As expected, manager Bud Black confirmed on Saturday that Joaquin Benoit will slide into Huston Street's vacated closer role after Street was traded to the Angels on Friday night.

The real intrigue lies in who will take over the setup role now that Benoit has been promoted. Black indicated that he'll decide who pitches the eighth inning based on each reliever's recent usage and performance, though rookie righty Kevin Quackenbush and right-hander Dale Thayer seem to have the upper hand for now.

"I think you guys have noticed that Quack's innings have become a little bit more high-leverage for us. He's pitching in more high-leverage games and he's performing," Black said. "You look at Dale, Dale's been a good performer for us, too. He had a couple of hiccups, but overall, his body of work has been pretty solid for us."

Quackenbush pitched the eighth inning on Friday night with the score tied, and he recently solidified his spot in the 'pen after being frequently shuttled to Triple-A El Paso during the first couple of months of the season. He has 28 strikeouts and eight walks in 27 2/3 innings with a 0.87 WHIP. Thayer, meanwhile, saved five consecutive games back in 2012 when Street was injured, and this season has a career-best 2.09 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings.

Worth noting:
• Kirk Nieuwenhuis has started five of the last six games in left field for the Mets, giving the club some consistency and production at a position that has lacked both at times in 2014. Collins, however, hinted that he might give someone else a shot there on Sunday.

• The Padres scored six runs on Saturday, marking the fourth time this month they have plated at least that many. They haven't scored more than six times in one game since July 1.

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