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Mets Sneak By Astros In 9th

Matt Franco made amends in a hurry.

Franco, who personally blamed himself for a loss the previous day, delivered a pinch-hit single with two outs in the ninth inning Monday night that gave the New York Mets a 3-2 victory over the Houston Astros.

"It was great to have a chance to do something good," Franco said.

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  • Mike Piazza's team-record streak of 10 straight games with an RBI ended, but the Mets did not need him to win for seventh time in nine games.

    "It's a great quality to have, to know we can string a couple of hits together and get a win against a team like Houston," Piazza said.

    New York remained a half-game behind Atlanta in the NL East. The Astros held their half-game lead over Cincinnati which lost to the Braves 6-2 in the NL Central.

    "Matty redeemed himself a little bit," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. "He's a standup guy and he got a big hit for us."

    A day earlier, Franco grounded into a bases-loaded double play and also misplayed a fly ball into a three-run double during the Mets' 7-5 loss to St. Louis in the second game of a doubleheader.

    Franco quickly atoned with his team-leading 13th pinch-hit in 46 tries.

    "Bobby talked to me before the game and said don't worry about it, this is a new day," Franco said. "Boy, was it."

    Darryl Hamilton doubled with one out in the ninth off Jay Powell (4-4) and took third on Roger Cedeno's flyout.

    After ball one to Rey Ordonez, Astros manager Larry Dierker went to the mound and told Powell to try to get the Mets' No. 8 hitter to chase some pitches. When the count when to 3-0, Dierker ordered ball four.

    Dierker explained the curious intentional walk to Ordonez, batting .263, by saying he wanted Mets reliever Armando Benitez (3-2) out of the game. Instead, Franco batted for Benitez and put away Houston.

    Franco sliced a blooper that fell beyond diving shortstop Tim Bogar and in front of charging left fielder Matt Mieske.

    "I hit it right off the end of the bat," Franco said. "As soon as I hit it, I knew it was going to be a hit."

    Said Houston's Craig Biggio: "It's just one of those games where we came out a little short."

    Benitez (3-2) struck out Lance Berkman with runners at the corners to end the ninth.

    Scott Elarton gave up Edgardo Alfonzo's solo homer in the first, and left after the eighth with the score tied at 2.

    Elarton was rained out of his start Sunday at Florida. Originally pushed back to Tuesday, he pitched in place of Mike Hampton, who spent the weekend in Texas after his wife gave birth to the couple's second child.

    Mets starter Al Leiter gave up Craig Biggio's major league-leading 50th double on his first pitch. The Astros did little else until Mieske homered to start the fifth.

    Carl Everett homered against his former team to start the Houston seventh, tying it at 2. It was his 20th home run, extending his career high.

    Alfonzo also reached 20 homers for the first time. The Mets made it 2-0 in the fourth when Robin Ventura singled, Hamilton doubled and Cedeno had a sacrifice fly.

    Elarton prevented further trouble when he stuck out his foot to stop Ordonez's hard shot and recovered in time to throw out Hamilton at the plate.


  • Piazza was 1-for-4. The major league record for consecutive games with an RBI is 17 by Ray Grimes for the Cubs in 1922.
  • The Mets started a nine-game stretch in wich they play only against the Astros and NL West-leading Arizona.
  • Astros CF Glen Barker was scratched from the starting lineup because of a strained left rib muscle. He pinch-ran in the ninth.
  • Everett was 0-for-11 against Leiter before getting two hits.
  • Jeff Bagwell struck out twice, and has fanned 100 times this season.
  • Mets RHP Rick Reed, sidelined since Aug. 9 by an injured finger, threw off the mound before the game. He is to make a three-inning rehab start Friday for Norfolk. LHP John Franco, on the disabled list since July 3 because of an injured finger, threw off the bullpen mound. RHP Bobby Jones, out since May 23 because of a strained right shoulder, pitched six innings in a rehab start for Norfolk. He gave up six hits and one run.

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