Mets

On A Tear, K-Rod Returns To Citi Field For Mets-Brewers

(credit: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

(credit: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – Mets fans may be rooting for K-Rod again this weekend.

That is, rooting for him to blow a game.

With Brewers closer John Axford enjoying an impressive season, many questioned Milwaukee’s acquisition of Francisco Rodriguez from the Mets last month.

Some Mets fans were just happy to see K-Rod gone. The two relievers, though, have combined to form one of baseball’s most dominant late-inning duos with the Brewers.

“They have got a great run going, and I know Frankie has helped immensely,” said Mets manager Terry Collins. “There is no doubt in my mind that you’re going to look up next year somewhere and he’s going to be a closer again.”

Rodriguez will return to Queens for the first time since getting dealt, and the Mets will look to add another rare loss to the Brewers’ ledger when they begin a weekend set Friday night.

Milwaukee (73-52) created a stir over the All-Star break by sending two players to be named and cash to the Mets (60-63) in exchange for Rodriguez, who ranks 24th all-time with 291 saves.

“I want him to succeed and I’m for him,” said Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey. “I know his time in New York was fairly tumultuous, but at the same time we get to see a different side than a lot of people.”

While Axford continues to close, Rodriguez has been extremely effective pitching primarily in the eighth inning for the Brewers, going 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA in 14 appearances.

“Anytime we can get the ball to us, I feel, in the eighth and the ninth, it’s going to be a pretty hard fight for the other team,” Axford told the league’s official website.

Axford, whose 36 saves are eight shy of the franchise record, has converted 33 straight opportunities and has allowed one run in his last 14 innings.

The Brewers bullpen, which compiled a 4.00 ERA prior to Rodriguez’s arrival, owns a 2.23 mark since his July 16 debut.

“Am I happy that we aren’t getting him opportunities to save games? No. But I think since we’ve got him, that bullpen has changed,” said manager Ron Roenicke, whose club has won 19 of 22. “I’ve said all along that I liked our bullpen, but when he got here and he was OK with pitching the eighth inning, it made it a great bullpen.”

Milwaukee relievers hadn’t allowed a run in nine games – a span of 19 2/3 innings – before Thursday’s 5-1 defeat to Los Angeles. Neither Rodriguez nor Axford pitched as the bullpen gave up four runs in four innings, and the Brewers had a six-game winning streak snapped.

Milwaukee has a 6 1/2-game lead on St. Louis in the NL Central thanks largely to its major league-leading 47 home wins, but the Brewers have won five of six road games this month and 10 of 15.

“I think, hopefully, we’re at the point now where we’re not talking about the road,” said Roenicke, whose team follows this series with four games at Pittsburgh.

Shaun Marcum (10-3, 3.50 ERA) takes the mound Friday and has been terrific in road starts, going 5-1 with a 2.35 ERA over his last 11.

The right-hander is unbeaten in his past eight outings overall after going 7 2-3 innings in Sunday’s 2-1, 10-inning victory over Pittsburgh.

“He continues to go out there and always keep(s) us in the game,” Roenicke said.

Marcum was outstanding in his only career start versus the Mets on June 7 but didn’t get a decision, giving up two hits in six scoreless innings of a 2-1 win.

New York won twice during that three-game set at Miller Park and is coming off its first series win of the month, taking two of three at San Diego after a 7-3 victory Wednesday.

The Mets, though, have lost seven of 10 at home as they give the ball to Mike Pelfrey (6-9, 4.58).

Pelfrey was removed from his most recent start after four innings after getting hit on his pitching elbow by a line drive during Saturday’s 6-4 loss at Arizona. He gave up three runs and four hits.

The right-hander made a rare relief appearance during Tuesday’s 6-1 loss to the Padres, yielding a run and two hits in one-third of an inning.

“We wanted to get him in the game, get him an inning’s work and really keep his workload down so he could have a little bullpen with some game action,” Collins said.

Pelfrey is 0-1 with a 5.11 ERA over two career home starts against the Brewers.

How should Mets fans greet K-Rod? Be heard in the comments below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)