Suddenly, the New York Mets are scoring runs in bunches.
The Mets have scored at least nine runs in each of their last three games, including 23 in the past two games to power them to back-to-back wins over St. Louis and Houston.
The Mets set season highs for runs and hits (19) in a 13-5 victory over the Cardinals on Sunday.
“For the longest time, we scuffled at the plate,” New York manager Art Howe said. “Now everybody is contributing. Now we feel we can put runs on the board because we’ve done it three straight games.”
Vance Wilson’s three-run homer keyed a seven-run fifth inning to lead New York to a 10-1 victory over Houston in the series opener on Tuesday. Wilson entered the game in a 1-for-46 skid.
Tony Clark homered in his first at-bat to give him three home runs in two games. Clark has 14 home runs in a backup role for New York this season.
“Not hitting is contagious and so is hitting,” Clark said. “When you have a group of young, talented guys like we have, you go through stretches where the ball can’t find a hole. But now we’re coming out of that and everyone is a part of it.”
The Astros are hoping Miller can slow the Mets’ offensive surge.
Miller has been a disappointment, going 7-10 with a 4.83 ERA. The young right-hander entered the season with a 31-12 record after his first two seasons.
The hard-throwing right-hander is 1-1 with a 6.28 ERA in three starts since the All-Star break. Miller went 11-1 with a 2.00 ERA in 15 starts after the All-Star break in 2002.
STANDINGS: Mets - 5th place, 27 GB, NL East. Astros - 1st place, NL Central.
METS PROBABLE STARTER: Aaron Heilman (1-4, 6.93 ERA). The Mets’ first-round pick in the 2001 amateur draft has struggled in his first seven starts. The 24-year-old right-hander four runs or more in four of his seven starts. Heilman has walked 20 batters in 37 2-3 innings—including six in 5 2-3 innings of a 4-3 loss to Milwaukee on Thursday. He gave up two runs and six hits while striking out a career-high seven. Opponents are hitting .303 off Heilman.
ASTROS PROBABLE STARTER: Miller (7-10, 4.83 ERA). Miller is 1-1 with a 4.67 ERA in three career starts against the Mets. He lasted only two innings on Thursday, yielding six hits and six runs—five earned—in a 7-4 loss to Atlanta.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Mets - Cliff Floyd, .280 avg., 18 HRs and 61 RBIs; Ty Wigginton, 59 runs and 9 SBs. Astros - Richard Hidalgo, .312 avg.; Jeff Bagwell, 24 HRs; Lance Berkman, 67 RBIs; Bagwell and Craig Biggio, 73 runs; Bagwell and Adam Everett, 6 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Mets, 3-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Mets - OF Floyd is 0-for-6 with two strikeouts against RHP Miller. … OF Cedeno has 98 career steals for New York and needs two more to move into eighth place on the Mets’ career list. … SS Jose Reyes is batting .423 (11-for-26) with three stolen bases over the last six games. Astros - 2B Jeff Kent was suspended for two games and fined Tuesday as a result of his argument with umpire Matt Hollowell during a game against the Chicago Cubs on July 26. He begins serving his suspension on Wednesday. … LHP Billy Wagner is third in the NL with 33 saves. … The Astros are 4-7 in their last 11 games.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Mets - 23-31 on the road; Astros - 33-21 at home.
INJURIES: Mets - C Mike Piazza (groin), 15-day DL; 1B Mo Vaughn (knee), 60-day DL; RHP Pedro Astacio (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Grant Roberts (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Strickland (groin), 60-day DL. Astros - INF Jose Vizcaino (wrist), 15-day DL; LHP Carlos Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Roy Oswalt (groin), 15-day DL; RHP Rodrigo Rosario (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Brian Moehler (elbow), 60-day DL.