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MIA@NYM: Marcum fans seven in eight frames of relief

They haven't scored too many runs against anyone else lately, but perhaps the Mets and Cubs can create some offense against each other.

The two worst lineups in the Majors this June, the Mets and Cubs had combined to score have combined to score 69 runs this month. Four other Major League teams have scored more runs this month than those two teams combined.

The Mets have a 2-7 record in June and the Cubs are 3-8, and the teams will begin a three-game series at Citi Field on Friday.

In an attempt to get something going, Cubs manager Dale Sveum shifted Starlin Castro from the bottom half of the order to the No. 2 spot, where he had spent the majority of the season. Castro was 2-for-28 in eight games since moving down in the lineup and had lowered his season average to .238.

"We dabbled with it a little bit, and obviously the offense isn't doing a whole lot with him down there," Sveum said. "It's just getting back to where we were. He's a guy who can swing the bat, and we have all the confidence in the world he can come out of it. You need him up there more than three or four times. Hopefully, he can get that fifth at-bat."

Castro, back in the two-spot Thursday, went 3-for-7 with two stolen bases and scored the game-winning run.

The Cubs were hitting .203 in the month of June. Darwin Barney, Anthony Rizzo, Scott Hairston, David DeJesus, Welington Castillo, Luis Valbuena and Castro have all compiled batting averages lower than .200.

"There's nobody right now who's stepping up and doing anything in any position in the lineup," Sveum said. "Sometimes you get to the point where you might want to pick the lineup out of a hat and see what happens."

The Mets haven't fared much better. Lucas Duda, John Buck and David Murphy have all hit under .200 in June, and Ike Davis was doing the same before being sent to Triple-A Las Vegas.

But manager Terry Collins stuck with the same lineup for three straight days, the first time he's done that all season.

"We're not playing good, but we're hanging in there," Collins said.

At least the Mets have gotten some help from the pitching staff.

Shaun Marcum takes the mound Friday hoping to get his first win in a Mets uniform after starting the year 0-7 with a 4.96 ERA, though he's allowed four runs or fewer in each of his last five appearances, striking out 33 batters in 34 1/3 innings. He'll look to continue a string of quality starts put up by Dillon Gee and Matt Harvey.

The Cubs, meanwhile, hold the worst June ERA in the Majors.

Edwin Jackson, who signed a four-year, $52 million deal with the Cubs in the offseason, has struggled to prove himself.

While his strikeout numbers are as high as they've been in the past, he's been hit around at an alarmingly-high rate, with opponents batting .286 off him this season.

Jackson enters with a 5.76 ERA, though he's coming off his best start of the year, a seven-inning, eight-strikeout performance in which he held the Pirates to one run on four hits.

Cubs: Garza trying to make it right
Matt Garza, who recently returned to the Cubs after starting the year on the disabled list, will pitch against the Mets in the series finale on Sunday. He's coming off one of his worst outings of his career, in which he allowed nine runs, including three homers, to the Reds.

The 29-year-old right-hander, who has a 6.26 ERA through five starts, said he hasn't yet gotten on the same page with Castillo, his catcher, and is working on his preparation.

"Being in this game for as many seasons as I have, I need to take control and I need to guide him through it," Garza said after the loss. "I'm not doing what I'm supposed to do. I'm going to get ready in five days and try to make it right."

Mets: Nothing wrong with three-four
The bright spot in the Mets' lineup has come from the three- and four-hitters, David Wright and Murphy, who continue to put together strong at-bats.

Wright had three more hits on Thursday and is 11-for-28 over his last six games. He and Murphy have hit safely in five of their last six games, and are each hitting over .280 on the season.

"If David continues to swing like he did [Wednesday], and you know Dan's going to hit, and if Lucas [Duda] gets hot, this is a whole different team," Collins said.

Duda is hitting just .227, but he is tied with Buck for the team-lead in home runs with 11.

"Lucas is still a young player, basically," Collins said. "He'll be the first to tell you that. He doesn't have two full years yet, that's still a pretty young player. So what he's got to do is go show people that he is a part of this."

Worth noting
• Former Cub and current Mets outfielder Marlon Byrd homered for his second straight game Thursday to give him 10 on the season. It's the first time he's hit 10 homers since 2010. Byrd hit at least 10 in four straight years from '07-10.

• DeJesus, Castro and Alfonso Soriano are a combined 7-for-50 (.140) lifetime against Marcum.

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