Notebook: Tough stretch ahead

They dominated the last-place team this weekend.

Now, it's time for the big boys.

Starting Monday, the Mets begin a stretch of eight series against teams with winning records when they host the Phillies at Citi Field. That stretch concludes after 25 games when the Mets host a Subway Series with the Yankees June 25.

"When you play these teams, you raise the level," Mets manager Terry Collins said after Sunday's 2-0 win over San Diego. "We got to pick our game up, no doubt about it. But again, if we continue to pitch, we'll be in some games."

For the first time since July 2010, the Mets are six games above .500 as they improved to 27-21 on the year. After entering the season as the seemingly easy pick to finish last in the NL East, the team is a surprise contender.

As they face the Phillies, Nationals, Reds, Rays, Cardinals, Orioles and the Yankees twice over the next month, the Amazins will have a chance to show where they stand.

"You got to win games like that," pitcher R.A. Dickey said. "It will be a good barometer for where we are. It's nice to have some confidence going into a stretch like that."

BYRDAK FLYING: Tim Byrdak threw 2/3 scoreless innings in the eighth inning and has now appeared in 14 innings spanning 28 games.

Byrdak has a 2.57 ERA and 20 strikeouts. Collins said if the team continues to use Brydak for one or two hitters, he believes the lefty will be fine. But they will be more careful using him during the summer.

"It doesn’t really faze me to tell you the truth," Byrdak said. "You limit the throwing you do before the game, in batting practice and stuff like that. [You] go on a daily basis with how you feel and what you can and can't do."

WRIGHT HITLESS: For just the second time this season, third baseman David Wright went hitless over a span of three games. His average is now .382.

"It's hard to get a hit, it's very difficult," Wright said. "Now, it's a matter of you feel a little bit out of sync and it's trying to revert back to how you felt when you are going well and how quickly you can snap out of it. I'm satisfied with not feeling too great at the plate but I'm drawing some walks and trying to make things happen on the basepaths and playing good defense. Stretches like this are going to happen. It's how quick you can get out of them. Hopefully something will click."

CEDENO DAY-TO-DAY: Ronny Cedeno is not sure if he'll be able to return to the lineup Monday after missing Sunday's game with a cramp in his calf.

Cedeno, who has been filling in at shortstop with Ruben Tejada on the disabled list, exited Saturday's game in the eighth inning with a cramp. Collins said Cedeno was OK at the time, but Cedeno said it felt a little sore Sunday. He said it feels better after treatment.

"We'll see tomorrow how it feels," Cedeno said.

BANNER DAY: The Mets held Banner Day Sunday with fans competing in a parade around the stadium. Dwight Gooden and Rusty Staub helped judge the winning banner from cousins Olivia Nuzzo and Stephanie Giangrande of Brooklyn.