Launching Pad: Slumping Dodgers, Mets meet

What to expect in the major leagues today:

Something has to give

The second half hasn’t been kind to the Mets and Dodgers, both of whom continue to see their respective division deficits climb. But there has to be a winner when the teams go head to head in the third game of their four-game set tonight at Dodger Stadium. The game will be especially critical for the Mets, as righthander Mike Pelfrey will attempt to bounce back from his nightmare outing Monday. Pelfrey allowed six earned runs in 1 1/3 innings against Arizona, throwing a whopping 74 pitches in the process. Since improving to 10-2 with a 2.71 ERA on June 25, Pelfrey is 0-3 with a 12.88 ERA.

A possible farewell

Righthander Roy Oswalt, the center of plenty of trade speculation, will make perhaps his final start for the Astros this evening at Minute Maid Park. And it could be memorable for another reason: Oswalt needs one win to tie Joe Niekro for the franchise’s all-time lead at 144. That win won’t come easy against the high-scoring Reds, who beat Oswalt in April. In that outing, Oswalt surrendered only three earned runs in seven innings while striking out seven. The big blow was Joey Votto’s two-run, two-out homer off Oswalt in the seventh inning.

Latos intolerant?

The "no pepper" rule definitely will be in effect at PNC Park tonight when Padres righthander Mat Latos takes the mound. Latos will be making his first start since coming off the disabled list with a sore side; he suffered the injury when he stifled a sneeze. The 10-game winner certainly has a favorable matchup in his return, as the Pirates rank near the bottom of the majors in runs scored, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Latos leads all major league starters with a .193 batting average allowed.

What to expect in the major leagues today:

Something has to give

The second half hasn’t been kind to the Mets and Dodgers, both of whom continue to see their respective division deficits climb. But there has to be a winner when the teams go head to head in the third game of their four-game set tonight at Dodger Stadium. The game will be especially critical for the Mets, as righthander Mike Pelfrey will attempt to bounce back from his nightmare outing Monday. Pelfrey allowed six earned runs in 1 1/3 innings against Arizona, throwing a whopping 74 pitches in the process. Since improving to 10-2 with a 2.71 ERA on June 25, Pelfrey is 0-3 with a 12.88 ERA.

A possible farewell

Righthander Roy Oswalt, the center of plenty of trade speculation, will make perhaps his final start for the Astros this evening at Minute Maid Park. And it could be memorable for another reason: Oswalt needs one win to tie Joe Niekro for the franchise’s all-time lead at 144. That win won’t come easy against the high-scoring Reds, who beat Oswalt in April. In that outing, Oswalt surrendered only three earned runs in seven innings while striking out seven. The big blow was Joey Votto’s two-run, two-out homer off Oswalt in the seventh inning.

Latos intolerant?

The "no pepper" rule definitely will be in effect at PNC Park tonight when Padres righthander Mat Latos takes the mound. Latos will be making his first start since coming off the disabled list with a sore side; he suffered the injury when he stifled a sneeze. The 10-game winner certainly has a favorable matchup in his return, as the Pirates rank near the bottom of the majors in runs scored, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Latos leads all major league starters with a .193 batting average allowed.

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