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NYM@ATL: Hefner fans seven over five strong frames

The Mets' offense hit a roadblock Thursday.

The lineup that was questioned throughout spring, with key losses appearing to outweigh any additions to an offense that scored just 650 runs last season (24th in the Majors), was super for two games.

But after a brief stint atop the Major Leagues, sporting one of the most productive lineups in baseball with 19 runs through their 2-0 start, the Mets were stymied by Eric Stults and the Padres' bullpen in a 2-1 loss on Thursday.

On Friday, the Marlins will replace the Padres at Citi Field, as the National League East foes square off in a three-game set.

The Mets will get a chance to get back on track against Alex Sanabia, a 24-year-old right-hander who spent all of 2012 in the Minor Leagues.

And the Mets might need to strike quickly if they're going to at all.

After Sanabia, the Marlins send Opening Day ace Ricky Nolasco and flame-throwing rookie Jose Fernandez to the mound on Saturday and Sunday.

Sanabia hasn't pitched in the Majors since Sept. 24, 2011.

"It's been a while since I've been here," he said. "A year and a half. Especially with all the injuries that I've been through. First it was a groin. Then it was an oblique. After the oblique, it was the shoulder.

"It was just a streak of things that just happened, continuous. I came back from the oblique injury, and the day I pitched, it was the shoulder."

The Mets get their first taste of the post-Johan Santana era, as 27-year-old Jeremy Hefner makes his 2013 debut after taking over Santana's place in the starting rotation.

Hefner, who relies on command and changing speeds, struck out six batters per nine innings last year. And he'll be facing a Marlins lineup that mustered just one run over their first three games against the Nationals.

"We've got to keep working on the positives," manager Mike Redmond said before Thursday's 6-1 loss to Washington. "We've got some young guys out there who are probably a little bit nervous. It's going to take those guys a little bit of time to settle in.

"I think this little span will be good. We don't have a day off for a while. We'll have a better rhythm of games."

Mets: Turner makes bold debut
With the left-handed Stults on the mound for the Padres, Mets manager Terry Collins turned to the right-handed-hitting Justin Turner instead of left-handed-hitting Daniel Murphy at second base.

Murphy is a career .273 hitter against lefties compared to .297 vs. righties. Turner has also struggled against southpaws, with a .236 average compared to .264 against right-handed pitchers.

Turner made a strong debut, though, collecting three of the Mets' five hits and stealing a base.

"We've got a whole weekend of right-handed pitching coming up," Collins said. "So I thought today would be a good day to get Justin in there."

Left-handed-hitting Mike Baxter, Jordany Valdespin and Kirk Nieuwenhuis will all likely get a start at some point during the three-game series.

Marlins: Another first baseman to join mix?
With Logan Morrison already on the 60-day disabled list, Casey Kotchman was the next to go to the DL following a strained left hamstring suffered in Wednesday's 3-0 loss to the Nationals. Joe Mahoney is also on the DL.

Greg Dobbs, the 34-year-old left-handed veteran, got his first start of the season Thursday, hitting cleanup and playing first base against the Nats. Dobbs is expected to get most of the playing time at first.

The Marlins anticipate having another player join the squad Friday to replace Kotchman when they open the series at Citi Field.

"I don't know if I've ever been around a team that hasn't had multiple first basemen," Redmond said. "It's kind of odd that we're sitting talking about three injured first basemen already this spring. It's definitely been a challenge. We've had a few injuries we're trying to overcome."

Worth noting
• Mets catcher John Buck hit his second homer in three games on Thursday, taking Padres closer Huston Street deep to left field in the ninth inning. It was the 50th home run for Buck since the start of the 2010 season. The 32-year-old spent last season with the Marlins.

• The Mets shouldn't miss playing against their former shortstop, Jose Reyes, who stole eight bases and scored 11 runs in 18 games playing for Miami against New York last year. Reyes is in his first season with the Blue Jays.

• Marlins third baseman Placido Polanco, who batted cleanup the first two games this season for the first time in his career, hit second on Thursday.

• The Marlins were 6-12 against the Mets last season, including a 2-7 record at Citi Field, where they've lost their last four games. Comments