Astros 6, Mets 3, 11 innings

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NEW YORK (AP)—Morgan Ensberg was so excited that the Houston Astros have started to find their way on the road, he didn’t know which teammate to credit first for this victory.

There was the against-the-odds, tying hit from Brad Ausmus. And Jose Vizcaino’s leadoff single in the 11th inning. And Craig Biggio’s pinch-hit RBI single in the seventh. Ensberg couldn’t decide.

But he could have just picked his go-ahead RBI double in the 11th inning that helped the Astros to only their second road series win of the season, 6-3 over the New York Mets on Thursday night

“It’s nice to get a good pitch to hit and hit it correctly,” Ensberg said. “There was a lot of good hitting tonight in tough situations.

Perhaps the most unlikely at-bat tied it in the seventh, when Ausmus got just his second hit in 37 at-bats off Tom Glavine to make it 2-all.

“Brad had maybe the biggest hit,” Astros manager Phil Garner said. “We’ve had so much trouble tying it up.”

Ausmus had little explanation for his opposite-field liner down the right-field line.

“A blind squirrel found an acorn,” Ausmus said. “I’ve been flailing at balls for over a decade against Glavine.”

After losing to Pedro Martinez in the opener, the Astros won two straight and improved to 2-8 in road series this season—they have won four of six on the road and are 7-23 away from home.

David Wright homered and drove in two runs for the Mets, but Houston opened the 11th with three straight hits off Heath Bell (0-3). Vizcaino and Lance Berkman singled before Ensberg doubled to left to make it 4-3. One out later, Everett singled to right to chase Bell.

“Balls were hit off the end of the bat,” Bell said. “I couldn’t get them out. I lost the game. Luck was on their side.”

Russ Springer (1-2) pitched a scoreless inning for the win, and Brad Lidge struck out three batters in the 11th for his 15th save. He gave up a one-out double to Carlos Beltran, his third hit.

The Astros got a lucky bounce and a hit from an unlikely source in the seventh to take the lead. But the Mets benefited from some shoe polish on the ball—just as in the 1969 World Series—to tie it at 3 in the eighth.

Leading off the inning, Kaz Matsui appeared to be hit on the foot by a pitch from reliever Dan Wheeler, but plate umpire Gerry Davis looked unsure of the call until he inspected the ball and awarded Matsui first base. Astros manager Phil Garner came out to argue and was shown the ball.

“I don’t want to admit, but yeah,” Garner said when asked if Davis showed him the polish.

Pinch-hitter Miguel Cairo sacrificed, and an out later Mike Cameron hit a sharp grounder up the middle that Everett stopped with a dive. But he couldn’t make the throw from his knees.

Glavine settled down after a shaky first inning, shutting down the Astros into the seventh. But the team that entered hitting a major league-worst .241 rallied for a 3-2 lead in the seventh—with a little help from a deflection.

Jason Lane doubled with one out and advanced to third when center fielder Beltran tried to backhand the ball and it skipped off the heel of his glove for an error. One out later, Ausmus doubled to right to score Lane.

“I was aware of his struggles against me in that situation,” Glavine said. “I tried to go after him and tried to capitalize on his misfortune.”

Biggio then hit a sharp grounder up the middle, which deflected off Glavine’s leg toward the right side of the infield for an RBI single.

Glavine allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings.

The Shea Stadium crowd of 30,737 booed former Yankees star Andy Pettitte when he took the mound in the first and each time he came to the plate.

Pettitte had his third straight strong start in an up-and-down season, limiting the Mets to two runs and four hits in six innings. He has given up just three runs in his last 19 innings but is 3-6 this season.

Pettitte missed significant time with elbow trouble that required season-ending surgery last season.

“It’s been a long road back but it’s been a heck of a lot better,” Pettitte said.

Wright homered off the left-field foul pole to tie it leading off the second. The Astros had opened with a run on four hits—including Berkman’s RBI single.

The Mets took a 2-1 lead in the fourth on a double by Beltran and a single by Wright.


Mets catcher Mike Piazza did not start because of a bruised left wrist. He was hit by a foul ball in the first inning Wednesday and left the game. … The Astros improved to 1-3 in extra-inning games. The Mets fell to 1-2.

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