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NYM@SEA: Niese strikes out Jones swinging in return

The Mets won seven of their last nine games before the All-Star break, averaging 5.1 runs per game over that span. The bats have gone quiet since, scoring only 18 runs in their first seven games out of the break, an average of 2.6 a game.

The dry spell has been largely a result of a lack of production from the big boppers in New York's top-heavy lineup. But it also hasn't helped the Mets' chances that, despite a few good performances, their starters have yielded 23 earned runs in their last 48 innings.

Southpaw Jon Niese gave up four of those -- the most earned runs he'd allowed all season -- in his last start against the Mariners on Monday. Granted, his performance, in which he allowed a season-high 11 hits, could be chalked up to his stint on the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation. He even said after the game that he could tell he hadn't "pitched in a while."

But if Niese is going to give his team a fighting chance to win this four-game series at Miller Park on Saturday, like Zack Wheeler did in Friday's 3-2 win, he'll have to remember how not to leave pitches out over the plate.

Especially since the Brewers are countering with a resurgent Wily Peralta, who is 2-0 with a 0.63 ERA in two career starts against the Mets. Plus the right-hander has won his last two outings while allowing just one earned run in 14 innings.

The two impressive starts followed a disastrous night in which Peralta was tagged for nine runs in 4 1/3 innings in a loss to the Phillies on July 8.

The 25-year-old has been inconsistent this season, going 3-1 in April, 1-4 in May, and 5-0 in June.

"He started off really good, then he got in those few starts where he didn't throw the ball so well," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Now he's back to really pitching [how] he would like to, that we would like him to. But, there's a difference in his face right now when he goes out for [a] game. He's got more of a game face on."

Mets: Duda could get more time against lefties
Mets first baseman Lucas Duda has had an impressive season at the plate, setting a career high in home runs when he hit his 16th longball at Miller Park on Thursday night. He added to that number with a ninth-inning, go-ahead shot on Friday.

But the first baseman hasn't been able to do much against lefties, with a .161/.254/.232 slash line against them. Only one of his home runs has come off a southpaw.

Mets manager Terry Collins said Friday that getting more playing time against left-handed pitchers would likely be the next step in the development of the promising first baseman.

"I think we've got to take a look at it. I really do," Collins said. "If he's going to continue to produce and if he's going to be a big run producer and the kind of player you want, he's gotta start playing against some of those guys, because you know, down the road, he's your everyday guy, he's got to hit."

Brewers: Roenicke seeing improvements in Segura's hitting
Jean Segura has had a tough month of July for various reasons, including having to spend a stint on the bereavement list. But since returning to the team after the All-Star break, Roenicke has witnessed the shortstop putting better swings on the ball.

"Since he came back after the break, I think he's driving the ball really well the other way," Roenicke said. "You're not seeing a lot of bad swings from him -- the one where he's off balance, he's flipping the bat over, he's hitting straight into the ground. We're not seeing a lot of those swings. Hopefully, he'll continue to do this."

The shortstop entered Friday showing some improvement at the plate, going 7-for-25 with two RBIs, two doubles and two triples in seven games. However, he was hitless in four at-bats on Friday.

Segura's 2013 struggles, when he hit .241 in the second half of the season after posting a .325 average to start off, have carried over this year. He hit .288 during the month of May but .196 in June. He is hitting .177 in 17 games in July.

Worth noting
• The Mets have scored 18 runs since the All-Star break, which is tied for second fewest in the Majors better than only Cincinnati's 13 runs.

• Daniel Murphy and David Wright may have broken out of their recent slumps on Friday, as the pair went a combined 5-for-8 against the Brewers. But the top of New York's lineup, Curtis Granderson included, spent the last week mired in a dry spell. The three hitters are a combined 18-for-89 (.202) since the All-Star break.

• Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez blew the save in Friday night's game -- his first blown save since June 27 against the Rockies and his fourth of the season. After allowing three earned runs, his ERA rocketed up to 3.10 from 2.61.

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