Maybe all Ike Davis needed was a change of scenery.
After bursting onto the scene with 19 homers for the Mets in his rookie season in 2010 and hitting a career-best 32 two years later, Davis fell into a tailspin last year, batting .205 while striking out 101 times in 103 games and also struggling to deal with an oblique injury. Those issues continued early this year, with Davis going 5 for 24 in 12 games with New York before Pittsburgh acquired him on April 18 in a three-player deal.
Since an 0 for 19 slump from April 22 to the first game of a May 1 doubleheader, Davis has been quite productive for the Pirates, hitting .347 (25 for 72) in his last 23 games. He is downplaying his return, though, telling the club's official website, "Truth is, it's not something big to me. Just gotta do it, go and try to beat the Mets."
A win would be a nice kick-start for Pittsburgh (22-27), which is opening a three-city, 10-game road swing. The Pirates were thwarted in their bid to sweep a four-game set from Washington on Sunday, losing the finale 5-2 as Davis had an RBI single and Francisco Liriano remained winless.
As one Pittsburgh starter struggles, manager Clint Hurdle is hoping Brandon Cumpton (0-1, 4.26 ERA) will emerge as a mainstay in the rotation. The rookie right-hander will be recalled before the game to fill Wandy Rodriguez's spot after the veteran left-hander was designated for assignment.
Cumpton has made two starts this year, the last coming May 1 when he yielded four runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings at Baltimore in a 6-5, 10-inning loss. He went 2-1 with a 1.29 ERA in three starts with Triple-A Indianapolis after being sent down and will be making his first appearance versus the Mets.
New York (22-27) could have used some of Davis' production given its recent scuffling offense. The Mets have not scored more than five runs in losing eight of their last 11, but they were able to salvage a split of a doubleheader with Arizona on Sunday by winning the second game 4-2 after a 2-1 loss in the opener.
''We realize we're not hitting, we're not scoring runs. When you can win a game, when you can get a big hit - Ruben had a tremendous big hit for us - it's a lift,'' manager Terry Collins said.
The Mets may have to continue scratching out runs since leadoff hitter Eric Young - tied for third in the majors with 17 stolen bases - may be headed to the disabled list with a hamstring injury.
Rookie Jacob deGrom (0-2, 2.77) tries again for his first win as he makes his third major league start. The right-hander was done in by the long ball Wednesday, giving up three solo homers among his four hits in six innings in a 4-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
''DeGrom was real good tonight,'' Collins said. ''The home run balls hurt him. But he changed speeds and used his breaking ball and went back and got a little more when he needed it.''