(Sports Network) – Knuckleballing novelty R.A. Dickey takes his turn to try and end the New York Mets’ early-season woes tonight when the Houston Astros visit Citi Field for the middle test of a three-game midweek series.
Houston got seven strong innings from starter Wandy Rodriguez and two runs batted in from Angel Sanchez in winning Tuesday’s series opener, 6-1.
Rodriguez (1-2) gave up one run on three hits with three walks and seven strikeouts while Michael Bourn and Brett Wallace each had two hits and two runs scored for the Astros, who were coming off a split of a four-game set with San Diego.
Carlos Beltran’s solo home run accounted for the only run for the Mets, who have lost eight of their last nine. Jon Niese (0-3) gave up two runs on seven hits with five walks over six innings.
Dickey, a 36-year-old righty who had 144 big-league appearances before last season, burst onto the New York scene with 11 wins and a 2.84 earned run average in 27 appearances across 174 1/3 innings last season.
He’s pitched in four games so far this season, getting a win and two losses in three starts and adding a hold with a scoreless inning of relief in Sunday’s 3-2 win over the Atlanta Braves.
It’s the only game the team has won since April 9.
A first-round pick of the Texas Rangers back in 1996, Dickey is 1-0 with a 1.56 ERA in 17 1/3 lifetime innings against the Astros.
Houston replies with 26-year-old right-hander Bud Norris, who’s coming off his best performance – and first victory – of 2011. The California native twirled six innings of scoreless two-hit ball with seven strikeouts on April 14 against San Diego, picking up the victory in the Astros’ 1-0 triumph.
Previously, he’d given up 11 hits and nine runs in 10 innings over two starts, losing decisions at Philadelphia and home to Florida.
Norris has split two career meetings with the Mets while posting a 4.97 ERA in 12 2/3 innings.
New York won four of its seven matchups with the Astros last season and has won six of the last eight meetings in Flushing.