The road has not been kind to the Mets this season -- and especially of late -- but the team has been able to win two of its first three matchups with the Astros. New York prevailed in an extra-inning thriller last night, with Ike Davis' sacrifice fly in the top of the 14th frame knocking in the deciding run in a 3-2 decision.
Jose Reyes drew a leadoff walk off Astros reliever Gustavo Chacin (1-2) to start the 14th and advanced to second on a sacrifice before stealing third to move 90 feet away from scoring. Following two more walks that loaded the bases, Davis lifted a fly ball to right that easily plated Reyes for a 3-2 advantage.
The Mets had been in position to win the contest in regulation, but Houston's Geoff Blum belted a solo homer off R.A. Dickey with one out in the bottom of the ninth to tie the score at 2-2. The long ball was Blum's first since September 16 of last season.
"He had his knuckleball working and I think he was throwing it where he wanted to," Blum said of Dickey. "It was driving me crazy. He got me [earlier], but he hung one."
Dickey, who fired a one-hit shutout against Philadelphia in his previous start, still turned in an outstanding showing despite that disappointing ending. The knuckleball specialist yielded just two runs and scattered nine hits while striking out six in 8 1/3 frames.
"He was really good tonight," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said of Dickey afterward. "He's given us a chance most of the time he's taken the ball for us and he's taken it very deep into the ball game. What that allows us to do is use quality relievers, even late."
Houston starter Brett Myers also pitched well, holding the Mets to two runs over his seven innings of work.
New York upped its still-subpar season road record to 24-38 with Wednesday's verdict and has won just six of 20 tests away from home since the All-Star break. The Mets last took a series on the road between June 15-17, when Manuel's squad swept the Cleveland Indians in three games.
The Mets could be in for a challenge in trying to accomplish their goal of winning this set, if Houston's Bud Norris is able to duplicate his most recent effort. The young right-hander takes the mound tonight off a career-high 14- strikeout performance in a home victory over Pittsburgh last Saturday, with Norris allowing just two runs and five hits in seven innings that night.
The 25-year-old is 3-0 with a solid 3.51 earned run average over his past four starts and has lasted at least six innings in each of those assignments. Norris hasn't fared that well at Minute Maid Park over the course of the season, however, as he's just 2-4 with a 5.56 ERA in 10 appearances at his home venue.
This will be Norris's first-ever encounter with the Mets, who'll send out Pat Misch in the finale for his second major league start of the season.
Misch acquitted himself well in Saturday's matchup with two-time defending National League champion Philadelphia, despite coming out on the wrong end of a 4-0 verdict. The well-traveled lefty did give up all four runs in a six- inning stint, but just one was earned due to a pair of costly errors by his teammates.
The Western Michigan product, who turned 28 on Wednesday, had compiled an 11-4 record and a 3.23 ERA in 23 starts for Buffalo prior to being called up last weekend. However, he's just 3-12 over 61 lifetime appearances in the big leagues, 19 of which have come in a starting role.
One of those victories did come against the Astros last October, though, with Misch surrendering just one run over five innings in that clash.
He'll be attempting to lead the Mets to an eighth win in their last nine games against Houston. New York took five of the six meetings between the teams last season.