NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran are expected back Tuesday night, and it may be rather timely for the reeling Mets.

Kyle Lohse and the St. Louis Cardinals are certainly not feeling the same way.

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The Mets are hoping Reyes and Beltran can give them an offensive spark by continuing their hot hitting against the Cardinals.

Reyes has been sidelined since July 2 with a strained left hamstring, and Beltran has missed three games with a case of the flu.

The duo, which represented the Mets (47-48) at last week’s All-Star game, is slated to return for the opener of this three-game series, and that may further fan the flames of trade rumors ahead of the non-waiver trade deadline later this month.

“I’m going to be very cautious with (Reyes) … because obviously anytime you start to strain muscles, a lot of it’s due to dehydration in the muscles,” said manager Terry Collins. “But he said he’s going to be fine, he’s ready, and we’ll do a much better job of monitoring him here, especially early to see if he’s OK.”

Reyes went 1 for 3 with a double for Class-A Brooklyn in a rehab stint Monday and still leads the majors with a career-high .354 average and 15 triples. Beltran is New York’s leader with 14 homers and 59 RBIs, and he’s batting .344 over his last 16 games.

New York has dropped five of six after falling 4-1 to Florida while mustering three hits in a makeup game Monday. The Mets have been held to two runs or fewer in four of those contests – all losses.

In the 15 games Reyes has missed this season, the Mets’ leadoff batters hit .197.

“Any team in this league that loses guys like that are going to have a tough time getting offense generated,” Collins said. “But we still have to plug away and put the ball in play and spread the ball around and run the bases a little bit better and be aggressive on the bases, and we just didn’t do that (Monday).”

While the Mets may be thrilled to have Reyes and Beltran back, the Cardinals (50-45) are likely to be less enthused.

Reyes is hitting .382 in his last six home meetings with St. Louis, while Beltran has a .517 average with two homers and nine RBIs in his past seven overall.

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Beltran is also 20 for 37 with four homers off Lohse, the Cardinals’ scheduled starter.

Lohse (8-6, 3.32 ERA) is 0-3 with a 10.38 ERA in four starts in Queens but hasn’t appeared there since surrendering five runs in 2 2-3 innings of a 9-0 loss Aug. 5, 2009.

The right-hander is 1-4 with a 5.50 ERA in six starts after opening the season 7-2 with a 2.41 ERA in 12 games.

He’s lost his last two starts while giving up 12 runs in 12 innings, and last dropped three in a row from June 3-July 20, 2009.

“Just location,” Lohse told the team’s official website. “That’s what it comes down to with me. I’ve got to locate my pitches better. Just missing, just trying to be too fine or whatever it is.”

The Cardinals could also use some help at the plate after being held to four hits in Sunday’s 3-1 loss at Cincinnati, falling for the fifth time in eight games.

Albert Pujols is hitting .320 with 12 homers and 27 RBIs in 27 games after posting a .257 average with eight homers and 28 RBIs through his first 54.

He’s 8 for 21 with three homers and eight RBIs in the past five games.

The Mets give Dillon Gee (8-3, 3.76) his first start against St. Louis.

The rookie right-hander has lost his last two starts while allowing 10 runs in 12 2-3 innings. He’s dropped his last two home games by giving up eight runs in 11 innings after winning his previous four decisions there with a 1.77 ERA in seven games – five starts.

What’s your prediction for Mets-Cardinals? Sound off in the comments below…

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