New York (52-50) at Houston (55-47)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 63° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Fri Jul 29, 2005
  • TV: FSNY, FSSW
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Houston Astros look to continue their impressive return to contention as they play the second game of their weekend series with the visiting New York Mets.

Houston has clawed its way into a tie for the NL wild-card lead with fading Washington after being 15 games below .500 on May 24.

The Astros rallied for a 3-2 win over the Mets in Thursday’s series opener. Brad Ausmus drove in the tying run off Pedro Martinez with a squeeze bunt in the seventh inning, then won it with an RBI single to right-center field with one out in the bottom of the ninth.

Houston has won five in a row and 11 of its last 12 games.

“We certainly take pride that we’ve come all the way back,” Ausmus said. “But there’s still a lot of baseball to be played.”

New York has lost three of four on its seven-game road trip after winning seven of its previous eight games overall.

Carlos Beltran, the star of Houston’s postseason run last October, went 0-for-4, hitting three infield grounders and an easy fly ball to center. Beltran hit eight homers in 12 playoff games last season for the Astros, but left in the offseason to sign a $119 million, seven-year deal with the Mets instead of accepting a relatively close offer from Houston.

Kris Benson will take the mound for the Mets on Friday, coming off an impressive effort in his last start.

Benson tossed eight dominant innings in Sunday’s 6-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, allowing just four hits and one walk while striking out five to raise his record to 7-3 and lower his ERA to 3.14, second among Mets starters after Martinez’s 2.76 mark.

“It’s just because I know what I want to do out there and I’ve been able to execute,” Benson said. “Good days and bad days.”

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Starting Pitchers

K. Benson ARI vs. W. Rodríguez HOU
10-8 Record 10-10
4.13 ERA 5.53
95 K 80
49 BB 53
1.26 WHIP 1.46