No road venue has been kind to the Houston Astros during the second half of the season, but they’ll hope for better luck in a stadium they’ve never visited.
The Astros try to win consecutive road games for the first time since mid-July on Friday night at Citi Field, where the Mets return to their new home one final time hoping to erase memories of being swept by the majors’ worst team.
Houston (74-85) went into the All-Star break with a 20-21 road record, and after winning two games at Dodger Stadium to open the second half, jumped above .500 away from home for the first time in 2009.
That’s also the only time the Astros could make that claim. Houston entered the finale of a four-game series in Philadelphia on Thursday night 7-27 away from Minute Maid Park since July 18.
The Astros figured to have trouble salvaging a split against the Phillies considering they were facing Cliff Lee(notes), but Miguel Tejada(notes) hit a two-run homer off the Cy Young Award winner and drove in three overall in Houston’s 5-3 victory.
Tejada extended his hitting streak to 18 games and is four hits away from his fourth 200-hit season.
“He takes it seriously,” interim manager Dave Clark told the Astros’ official Web site. “He goes up there and doesn’t give away many at-bats, and that’s why he’s in the position he’s in right now, closing in on 200 hits.”
That win stopped a streak of nine consecutive road series losses for the Astros. They haven’t won a series away from home since taking three of four in San Diego from June 29-July 2.
The Mets (67-92), meanwhile, are 38-40 in their first year at Citi Field, where they have to be happy to be returning following their trip to Washington. New York lost the first two games there to the woeful Nationals, but appeared to be in control in Wednesday’s finale, leading 4-2 in the bottom of the ninth.
For the seventh time this season, though, Francisco Rodriguez(notes) couldn’t convert a save. He gave up five runs - the final four coming on a walk-off grand slam by Justin Maxwell(notes)—to seal a 7-4 loss.
“We’re just not a good team right now,” manager Jerry Manuel said of the Mets, who are 10-27 since Aug. 22.
John Maine(notes) (6-6, 4.72 ERA) will try to give New York a boost Friday in his final start of an injury-plagued season. In his third start after missing three months with right shoulder fatigue, Maine allowed seven runs and seven hits over 4 2-3 innings of a 9-6 loss at Florida on Saturday.
“I kind of felt like spring training,” Maine told the Mets’ official Web site. “I couldn’t get swings and misses with my fastball. They hit it pretty hard.”
Maine is 3-1 with a 3.77 ERA in four career starts against Houston.
Wandy Rodriguez(notes) (14-11, 2.97) will get the ball for the Astros, hoping to close the best season of his career on a positive note. The left-hander gave up two runs and nine hits over six innings and struck out nine Sunday in a 3-2 win over Cincinnati.