CHICAGO -- The Mets are going with a new leadoff hitter in an attempt to spark their stagnant offense.
Daniel Murphy hit at the top of the order for the series finale against the Cubs on Sunday for the first time this year, and went 1-for-4 with a home run and two runs scored. He had previously hit second, third, fifth and sixth this season. It was just the fifth time in his career that he has led off.
"It's still always about quality at-bats," Murphy said. "I texted my brother [Twins prospect John Murphy] today just to get some advice on the leadoff spot. His advice was, 'If you're in between on whether or not you want to swing on the first pitch of the game, take it.' So if I'm in between, I'll take it."
Murphy is now 3-for-20 in 23 career plate appearances from the top of the order, but Mets' leadoff hitters are batting just .186 from the top spot, last in the National League. The team has scored three runs or fewer in 10 of their last 13 games.
"The ideal thing is to have a lineup you put out there every day and it's the same," manager Terry Collins said. "When we are sitting where we're sitting right now, certainly we're not hitting. We're not getting guys on. You've got to pick and choose. You've got to go with guys that are getting the job done."
Murphy is the seventh player to hit leadoff for the Mets this year. Ruben Tejada has the most appearances at the top spot (12), followed by Jordany Valdespin (10), Mike Baxter (eight), Collin Cowgill (seven), Justin Turner (two) and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (one).
And after Murphy's performance on Sunday -- he's 15-for-32 over the course of an eight-game hitting streak -- Collins is considering keeping him there.
"I feel like I'm taking better swings," Murphy said. "I feel better with my swings. I'm also getting better pitches to hit. When your swing's rolling good and you feel comfortable at the plate, you just don't miss them. And that's where I kind of feel like I'm at right now."
Mets hope Ike's woes don't extend to defense
CHICAGO -- Part of the reason the Mets were able to persevere through Ike Davis' early-season struggles last year was his vitality at first base. And as he slumps again to start this season, the club hopes his defense won't also fall victim in the meantime.
Davis, who made just eight errors last season and has a career fielding percentage of .994, has three miscues this season. He misplayed one ball on Saturday for an error and couldn't field a short-hopped throw from Ruben Tejada on Friday, leading to two critical runs.
"I've made three errors this year," Davis said. "One was a bad hop, one was a tough play where I had to try to make it and hit a guy in the elbow trying to turn a double play, and [Saturday's] kind of bounced up on me, too. But I don't think it's carrying over. I'm still playing pretty good defense. Unfortunately, I've made a couple of errors."
Davis is hitting .156 this year with just two doubles and nine RBIs. He has two hits in last 33 at-bats, and just one extra-base hit and one RBI this month. He hit .169 through May last year, then turned it on in June with 24 RBIs.
After having Sunday off, Davis is expected to return to the lineup on Monday with right-hander Johnny Cueto starting for the Reds. But manager Terry Collins did not say whether Davis will bat cleanup.
Davis has been the primary cleanup hitter, but he's hit as low as seventh (eight times). Collins recently restored Davis to the No. 4 spot partly as a vote of confidence.
"He shows up, one day he's hitting fourth, the next day he's hitting seventh," Collins said. "I didn't like the scenario of that."
Collins has noted during Davis' slump that he still contributes in other ways.
"When you're struggling -- and Ike's so good around first base, so good around the bag and such a good first baseman -- when he struggles, all of a sudden, it looks like it's because he's not hitting," Collins said. "I don't think that's it, because I've talked to a lot of these guys about when you're going through slumps, it's part of the game. But don't let anybody else get a hit either. Take them away."
• David Wright has been credited with a base hit for his ninth-inning at-bat on Thursday in St. Louis. The official scorer originally ruled the play a fielder's choice, but it was changed after a review by Major League Baseball.
• Reliever Robert Carson gave up a solo home run to Nate Schierholtz in the eighth inning of Saturday's loss, the seventh homer he has allowed in 11 innings. He's given up at least one earned run in four of his last five appearances.
"It's just inexperience," Collins said. "He probably doesn't pitch as much here as he does in the Minor Leagues. You're more on a schedule there, and as you go a couple of days, you're going to get in a game. And he hasn't been doing that. The thing I like is that his velocity is up, but he's throwing balls right down the plate. He gets behind, and he'll throw a fastball right down the middle and get hurt."