The last time Oliver Perez pitched, Mets fans complained that manager Jerry Manuel removed him too early. Imagine that. Perez held the Cardinals to four hits in 6 1/3 innings despite lacking the old zip on his fastball.

Now that the Mets have their first two-game winning streak of the season, can Ollie pitch well enough against the Cubs tonight at Citi Field to make it three in a row and climb within a game of .500? Uh, history says no. Perez (0-1, 3.75) last defeated the Cubs in 2003, facing them six times since then.

Mets starters have allowed a total of four runs in their past 38 innings for a 0.95 ERA -- a stretch that began with Perez's last start. The control Perez showed against the Cardinals with his off-speed pitches was somewhat out of character, so, no one's calling it a trend yet.

The toughest thing for Perez might be keeping pace with Cubs starter Carlos Silva, who is as good a bet as any to put a stop to their four-game losing streak. Silva (1-0, 0.69)pitched seven solid innings of five-hit ball in beating Houston in his last start. Okay, everyone beats Houston, but still it was impressive. Silva won only one game for Seattle last season when he was troubled by injuries, but he won 24 games for Minnesota in 2006-07 and might be regaining that form.


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