As the Mets and Cubs navigate their way through the early part of the 2013 season, winning one series at a time is the most important step toward inching their records closer to the .500 mark.
Each will have a chance on Sunday to claim the series, as left-hander Travis Wood takes the ball for the Cubs and right-hander Dillon Gee will pitch for the Mets in the rubber match of a three-game series.
The Cubs are hoping to continue what has been a good run over the last few series. They are unbeaten in their last three series (2-0-1), and with a win on Sunday would win three consecutive series for the first time since July 6-19 of last season, when they won two of three at the Mets before taking home series against the D-backs and the Marlins.
"The most important thing, to chip away at a rough start, is to win series," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "I don't think you set goals [for] anything, except to win series. That game is as important as any one coming up tomorrow. So you have to win those games."
The Mets, meanwhile, had won two in a row before Saturday's loss to end what had been a six-game losing streak, and Mets manager Terry Collins says it's important to keep turning losses around and staying positive to avoid such streaks.
"It's huge, and that's why we've tried to keep it positive -- even when we were losing," Collins said. "If you get down and you let this get to you, you're going to lose 10 in a row. You've got to stay upbeat, you've got to come to the ballpark with a positive attitude each and every day.
"Because it's a long year, and if you get down in May, what's it gonna be like in July when you start getting physically tired? We work very hard, and I've got a great staff that helps to keep the atmosphere around here on a positive note."
By notching his fourth victory his last time out, Wood became only the second Cubs left-hander since the team moved to Wrigley Field in 1916 to record eight quality starts to begin a season, joining Hippo Vaughn (1919). He allowed just two hits over seven scoreless innings against the Rockies in his previous outing.
Gee is coming off a rough start at Busch Stadium earlier in the Mets' road trip. He allowed six runs (five earned) on nine hits in just four innings of work, taking the loss in a 10-4 defeat at the hands of the Cardinals. His last time against the Cubs went well, however, as he took the victory with eight strong innings at Citi Field last July 7.
Mets: Wright keeps streak rolling
Third baseman David Wright extended his hitting streak to six games on Saturday and continues to have a strong May.
Wright, who singled and went 1-for-4 in the Mets' loss on Saturday afternoon, is batting .375 (9-for-24) during his hitting streak. In the month of May, he's batting .339 (19-for-56) with three doubles, four homers and eight RBIs.
• First baseman Justin Turner and outfielder Juan Lagares are expected to be in the starting lineup on Sunday. First baseman Ike Davis and catcher John Buck are due for scheduled days off.
Cubs: Barney stays sharp on defense
While the Cubs' defense has been among the most error-prone in the National League, committing their 34th error of the young season on Saturday, second baseman Darwin Barney still has a zero next to his name in that department.
Part of the reason might be that he is often found taking early work in the infield, as he was on Saturday.
"He's just a guy that never accepts mediocrity, that's the thing about it," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Barney. "No matter how good he's playing, he's obviously going to stick to his routine and get as many ground balls and do them as [close to] game speed as he possibly can."
• The Cubs embark on an eight-game road trip, starting on Tuesday in Pittsburgh for the opener of a three-game set, followed by three in Cincinnati and then a pair of games at U.S. Cellular Field against the White Sox. That two-game set on the South Side will begin a stretch in which the Cubs will play 14 of 16 games in Chicago.
• The Mets head home to host the Reds on Monday, followed by visits from the Braves and Yankees.
• The Cubs and Mets will meet again next month at Citi Field for a series slated for June 16-19.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.