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Preview: Tigers Head To New York To Battle Mets

(Sports Network) - The New York Mets return home after their most successful road trip of the season this evening when they begin a three-game set with the Detroit Tigers at Citi Field.

New York has struggled mightily away from Flushing this season, but won the first seven games of their nine-game trek before losing the final two games to the Yankees to close the trip.

The Mets were handled by CC Sabathia in Sunday's rubber match, as they managed just four hits in the 4-0 setback. Angel Pagan, David Wright, Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada accounted for the offense for the Mets, who had won eight in a row before losing the last two.

Johan Santana (5-4) was charged in the loss for eight hits and four runs over six full frames, striking out three with one walk.

"It's disappointing because we have routine plays we were supposed to make and we didn't make them. Instead of staying within a couple runs, we had to deal with a grand slam," Santana said of the one inning which ruined an otherwise solid start. "I was just trying to stay focused and throw my pitches, trying to keep the ball down. That was my mindset for the entire game."

Tonight, the Mets return home, where they have won 10 of 11 and own the second best mark in the NL at 24-10. Only Atlanta has been better in front of its fans, posting a 24-7 mark.

New York, though, will have its hands full, as it faces Justin Verlander, who has won his last three starts and is 8-4 on the year with a 3.54 earned run average. Verlander's latest win came on Wednesday against Washington, which mustered just three runs and seven hits in eight innings. He also fanned 11 batters without allowing a walk.

"He pitched extremely well against a good lineup," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said of his ace after that win. "That's what you like to see from your horse."

This will be his first-ever appearance against the Mets.

Verlander will be opposed by 23-year-old lefty Jonathon Niese, who like his counterpart has won his last three starts. Niese followed up his brilliant one-hit shutout against the San Diego Padres on June 10 by beating the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday. He allowed three runs in seven innings of that one, as he improved to 4-2 to go along with a 3.64 ERA.

Niese will be facing a Tigers team that has won eight of their last nine games. Detroit took two of three from the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks over the weekend, winning Sunday's finale 3-1.

Rookie Brennan Boesch and Carlos Guillen hit back-to-back home runs in the seventh to give the Tigers the lead in that one, while Joel Zumaya pitched a 1-2-3 eighth for the Tigers and Jose Valverde tossed a perfect ninth to record his 16th save.

Detroit starter Max Scherzer (4-6), who spent his first two years in the majors playing for Arizona before being dealt in the offseason, gave up one run on four hits and two walks with eight strikeouts over seven innings.

The Tigers could have rookie outfielder Austin Jackson back in the lineup tonight. The speedy leadoff hitter, who leads AL rookies with a .308 batting average, 36 runs, 17 doubles and 10 stolen bases, had missed the last five games with a back injury before being used as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning on Sunday.

Detroit took two of three from the Mets the last time these teams met back in 2007 at Comerica Park.