Lucas Duda missed his fourth straight start Friday night with a stiff back that he said has been diagnosed as a lumbar strain.

As they said for each of the previous four days, the Mets indicated they hope Duda can return for their next game. That would be Saturday night against Pirates righthander Charlie Morton.

There's also the possibility that they will rest Duda until Tuesday, given that they are facing a lefthander Sunday and have an off-day Monday.

Manager Terry Collins would not rule out a trip to the disabled list. Duda, as he had for four days, said he doesn't think that will be necessary.

"It feels better," he said. "I took some swings today and ran a bit. It's moving in the right direction."

Terry goes for 'O'

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Collins said he chose Wilmer Flores to start at shortstop in place of Ruben Tejada for the second straight game to beef up the offense in the absence of Duda, who leads the club with 21 home runs.

"We discussed today, 'Hey, look, we've got Bartolo [Colon] on the mound, he pitches to contact. Do we go defensively?' '' Collins said. "I said, 'For me, Wilmer's played very well defensively lately, especially since we've moved him around a little bit.' He's just relaxed more. So I said, 'Right now, with this guy pitching today and with Lucas out of the lineup, let's get some offense there.' ''

Wright stuff

David Wright went 2-for-5 and played nine innings at third base for Class A St. Lucie on Friday in Jupiter, Florida. "We want him to play three in a row and have a day off," Collins said. "Weather's a factor in Florida, for sure. If they have another rainout, we've got to think about getting him someplace else." . . . Steven Matz will pitch for St. Lucie Saturday in a rehab assignment. The former Ward Melville star was shut down with a partial tear in his left lat muscle July 5.

With Peter Cappiello