Houston (46-52) at New York (59-38)

Cloudy Currently: New York, NY
Temp: 67° F
  • Game info: 1:10 pm EDT Sun Jul 23, 2006
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The New York Mets figured to be in the market for starting pitching with the trade deadline drawing near, but they may not be as anxious to make a deal after a string of unexpectedly strong starts.

Mike Pelfrey looks to become the first pitcher in Mets history to win his first three starts as they try for a three-game sweep of the Houston Astros at Shea Stadium on Sunday.

This is a busy time for New York general manager Omar Minaya. With the trade deadline less than two weeks away, Minaya continues to shop and the priority is starting pitching. Minaya believes there is a 50-50 chance the Mets will make a deal.

But the Mets (59-38) have gotten good starts recently from Orlando Hernandez, John Maine and Pelfrey (3.27 ERA)—a first-round draft pick last year who was called up from Double-A on July 7 to help a short-handed rotation.

The 22-year-old right-hander gave up seven singles and a pair of runs in six innings in an 8-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday to become only the third Mets player to win the first two starts of his career, joining Dick Selma (1965) and Gary Gentry (1969).

“I like the way he pitched,” New York manager Willie Randolph said, “but he needs to continue to go out and face other hitters and learn how to pitch at this level.”

Xavier Nady hit a three-run homer and Orlando Hernandez pitched seven solid innings to help New York beat Houston 4-3 Saturday. In Friday’s series opener, John Maine pitched a four-hitter in the Mets’ 7-0 win.

Carlos Delgado added a sacrifice fly Saturday, helping the NL East-leading Mets to their third consecutive victory and 11th in 15 games. They improved to a season-best 21 games over .500.

Delgado also has two home runs and five RBIs in his last three games.

“It was only a matter of time,” Randolph said. “It’s good to get him back in the groove. We need the big guy.”

The Mets are 21-9 in one-run games, the most such wins in the majors.

Meanwhile, the Astros (46-52) have dropped three straight and eight of their last 11 games to fall a season-worst six games below .500.

Roy Oswalt (6-7, 3.22 ERA) will make the start for the Astros. He lost his fourth straight decision Tuesday, giving up four runs and seven hits in five innings in a 4-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs. The right-hander’s last win was against the Chicago Cubs on June 14.

The losing streak is the longest in Oswalt’s six-year major league career, during which he has compiled an 89-46 record.

“I can tell you right now, when he takes the ball on the mound, he’s trying to win,” Houston manager Phil Garner said.

Oswalt is 2-3 with a 3.45 ERA in seven career starts against the Mets. New York left fielder Cliff Floyd is batting .375 (6-for-16) with two home runs and six RBIs lifetime against Oswalt.

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Starting Pitchers

R. Oswalt Col vs. M. Pelfrey Min
15-8 Record 2-1
2.98 ERA 5.48
166 K 13
38 BB 12
1.17 WHIP 1.73