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BAL@PIT: Davis belts a solo shot to cut into the lead

Ike Davis relished a triumphant return to New York so much, he gets to do it again. The former Mets first baseman will be back in Citi Field on Monday afternoon, a week after departing the Bronx.

Davis checks back in as the everyday first baseman and recently-installed cleanup hitter of the Pirates, who meet the Mets in the opener of a three-game set.

Getting a fresh perspective of Citi Field with his new team will make this visit different, of course.

"It'll be weird, being in the visiting clubhouse for the first time," said Davis, who otherwise declines to view the return as significant. "Truth is, it's not something big to me. Just gotta do it, go and try to beat the Mets."

Giving that his best shot on the mound will be Brandon Cumpton, who is being recalled for the assignment from Triple-A Indianapolis, where the right-hander was 4-1 with an ERA of 1.35.

This is Cumpton's sixth recall since last June 15, but there is a major difference this time. Previously, he filled in temporarily for injured veterans. Now, he is getting the first crack at inheriting the spot of Wandy Rodriguez, the left-hander whom the Bucs designated for assignment on Thursday.

Nonetheless, Cumpton will be the "old-timer" in his matchup with the Mets' Jacob deGrom, who will be making his third big-league start since his May 13 call up from Norfolk. The first two have been of high quality, a total of 13 innings and four runs allowed.

Davis should be a popular subject in Queens. He departed as a .208 hitter on April 18, because the Mets preferred to have Lucas Duda as their first baseman, and now is hitting .285, while Duda is at .228.

"Really, it takes a while during the season to find a groove, and I'm usually pretty decent once I do find it," said Davis, hitting .407 (22-for-54) in his last 17 games, since May 6. "Usually it takes me a little longer. I found it earlier this year."

Pirates: Lefty hitters exposing Liriano's vulnerability
On his way to earning National League Comeback Player of the Year honors as the Bucs' 2013 ace, Francisco Liriano never went more than three starts without a win. On Sunday, he remained winless in 2014 for the 11th start in a row.

The difference has been the left-hander's inconsistent stuff and command, best reflected in his difficulty putting away good lefty hitters. A year ago, not even the great ones had a chance against him.

"I don't really know if that left-on-left situation he had last year can be replicated. That was just completely dominating," said Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle. "But can you get a little closer to it? We've seen some left-handers stretch some at-bats and the barrel has shown up more than last year."

In 2013, Liriano held lefties to a .131 average and without a homer. This season, they have an average of .310 and two homers off him.

Mets: Duda going through a rough stretch
Duda experienced a particularly tough weekend, stranding seven baserunners in Saturday's 3-2 loss to Arizona, then six more in addition to hitting into a double play in the 2-1 defeat in the opener of Sunday's twin bill. He went 0-for-4 in both games.

"He's just not getting the ball set," Mets manager Terry Collins said of Duda. "Those fly balls you are seeing, he's getting under the ball a little bit. This is a big park. You've got to get the ball squared up here."

Worth noting
• The Bucs have played 48 games since their only shutout of the season, a 10-inning, 1-0 win on Opening Day. It is the team's longest stretch without a shutout since July 19-Sept. 29, 2009, when the Pirates went 65 games between shutouts.

• Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud -- brother of Pirates farmhand Chase -- went 1-for-3 and caught five innings in the first game of his rehab assignment with Double-A Binghamton on Sunday. After grounding out to second in the first inning, d'Arnaud homered on a fly ball to left field in the third and flied out to right field in the fifth. d'Arnaud has been out since May 13 with a concussion. Comments