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NYM@PIT: Niese fans five over six innings of work

Jon Niese has one more chance to prove he's worthy of an All-Star roster spot.

It comes Friday against the Rangers, and a strong performance could give him the surge he needs to possibly emerge from the bubble.

The lefty is 5-4 on the season with a 2.88 ERA and is coming off of a six-inning stint in Pittsburgh, where he gave up seven hits and three earned runs, but struck out five in a 5-3 Mets victory.

""Last year the game was in New York, I get it. And Matt [Harvey] didn't have as many wins, but he certainly deserved to be out there for what he did," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I think Jon Niese is similar. Every time he goes out there he gives you seven quality innings."

The Mets have dropped seven of their last nine with an off-day Thursday, and are expected to have David Wright back in the lineup from a bruised rotator cuff in his right shoulder.

Yu Darvish will get the ball for the Rangers on Independence Day.

Darvish was originally slated to start Thursday in Baltimore, but was scratched for Scott Baker due to uncertainty about the weather. The Rangers thought that if rain hit in the middle of the game, Darvish would be forced into a shorter outing than usual. They didn't want him to pitch for just a few innings and then not be available again until next week.

In his last outing, Darvish threw eight innings of no-run ball against the Twins with 10 strikeouts and just four hits. He's now 8-4 with a 2.42 ERA in 15 starts.

Darvish has had to carry the Texas rotation, but said that it's a task that doesn't bother him.

"I can only pitch once every five days so there is no burden o my shoulders," Darvish said. "I just have to do my job on the day that I start."

Mets: Wright due back Friday
Third baseman Wright is expected to return to the lineup, after missing six games with the bruised shoulder.

Wright underwent multiple tests on his shoulder over the past week in New York and has not attempted any baseball activities since injuring it his shoulder on June 26. Instead, he has been undergoing daily physical therapy at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

It's been a rough season in general for Wright, who has struggled to hit with anything resembling his usual power. Wright is batting .277 with six home runs in 79 games, and injuries are becoming a defining characteristic of his career. The third baseman missed a month last year with a strained right hamstring, as well as more than two months in 2012 with a stress fracture in his lower back.

Rangers: Rangers to face another lefty
In Niese, the Rangers will face a left-handed pitcher for the second day in a row Friday, and the third time in four games.

They faced T.J. McFarland on Tuesday and Wei-Yin Chen on Thursday in Baltimore.

With so many lefties, Rangers manager Ron Washington has had to find a way to adjust his lineup.

He has used right-hander Alex Rios in the No. 3 spot against McFarland and Chen. He sat left-hander Carlos Pena on Tuesday and put him in the seventh spot Thursday. Leonys Martin, who throws right but bats left, batted fifth for the first time this season Thursday against Chen.

"I didn't want all my left-handers bunched together so that's the way it came out," Washington said.

Worth noting
• The Mets kick off a 10-day homestand Friday, featuring the Rangers, Braves and Marlins. They won't have another road game until July 18 when they begin a series with the Padres.

• As of Thursday, Texas was in fourth place for 17 straight days and 29 of the last 30.

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