Houston (56-57) at New York (53-59)

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  • Game info: 12:10 pm EDT Thu Aug 12, 2004
  • TV: FSNY
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Andy Pettitte is accustomed to pitching in the New York spotlight.

He’ll return to the city where he established himself as a big game pitcher for the first time since leaving the Yankees as a free agent when the Houston Astros finish up a three-game series with the New York Mets at Shea Stadium.

Pettitte signed a three-year, $31.5 million contract with the Astros in December after spending nine years with the Yankees.

“When I left there after (World Series) Game 6, I never really envisioned myself in a different uniform,” Pettitte said after signing with Houston.

Pettitte, who helped the Yankees win six AL pennants and four World Series titles, was 21-8 last season with a 4.08 ERA, improving his career record to 149-78.

But this season has been a tough one for Pettitte and the Astros. The left-hander has struggled with elbow injuries all season, making two trips to the disabled list. He’s 6-4 with a 4.07 ERA in only 14 starts for Houston.

The 32-year-old southpaw gave up two runs and six hits over five innings in Houston’s 8-3 loss to the Montreal Expos on Saturday. He did not receive a decision in his first start since July 26.

Pettitte is pitching despite continued elbow pain.

“I felt good, all things considered. I know my velocity was down a little, but that’s what I’m going to have to deal with,” Pettitte said. “I’m going to have to be sharper with my command than I was tonight.”

Pettitte is hoping to spoil Victor Zambrano’s Shea Stadium debut with the Mets.

Zambrano will be making his first start in New York since getting traded to the Mets from Tampa Bay on July 30 in a four-player deal that sent top pitching prospect Scott Kazmir to the Devil Rays.

The 29-year-old Zambrano was shaky in his first start for the Mets last Thursday. He gave up six runs—four earned—and eight hits over 5 1-3 innings, striking out seven to earn an 11-6 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on Aug. 5.

Zambrano will try to get New York back on track after a 5-4, 10-inning loss Wednesday. Morgan Ensberg had three hits for the Astros, who won for only the second time in seven games.

Playing without starting pitcher Tom Glavine, slugger Mike Piazza (knee) and shortstop Kaz Matsui (back), the injury-depleted Mets lost for the fourth time in five games. Piazza was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Aug. 7, because of inflammation in his left knee.

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Starting Pitchers

A. Pettitte NYY vs. V. Zambrano NYY
6-4 Record 11-7
3.90 ERA 4.37
79 K 123
31 BB 102
1.23 WHIP 1.56