Astros 2, Mets 0
Andy Pettitte outdueled his fellow left-hander by throwing eight shutout innings and Jason Lane spoiled Glavine’s shutout bid with a towering home run in the seventh, sending the Astros past the New York Mets 2-0 Saturday night. It was Houston’s first victory over Glavine since June 1995, ending a 16-start drought.
“You saw masters doing it—changing speed, location, keeping the ball down, knowing when to pitch to somebody and when not to,” Astros manager Phil Garner said. “That was pretty good baseball.”
Settling old scores is just a happy byproduct of the Astros’ incredible midseason run. This was their season-best seventh straight win and 13th in 14 games. They’ve won 25 of the last 30 and are 42-17 since bottoming out at 15 games under .500 in late May; this win put them 10 over and upped their lead in the NL wild card race to two games over Washington.
The best part for the Astros wasn’t beating Glavine, but how they did it.
Pettitte (9-7) won his sixth straight decision while allowing less than two runs in his eighth straight outing. He scattered three hits and two walks and struck out six, mostly on cut fastballs that left batters lunging at air.
Houston got great pitching early this year, too, but this was the kind of game it would’ve lost 2-0 in April and May. Instead, Lane broke the scoreless tie by recognizing the first pitch Glavine (7-9) threw in the seventh and driving it 400 feet, smacking above one of the arches in left-center field.
“It was a decent pitch,” said Glavine, who’d won his last 10 decisions against Houston. “If I’m going to get beat by a solo home run, I’ll take that every day.”
Lane said Glavine threw him the same curveball to open his previous at-bat, but it froze him and he didn’t swing. When he saw it again, he was ready to react.
“I kind of put it in my memory bank and didn’t miss,” Lane said. “It’s like a chess match against guys like that. It feels good.”
Glavine allowed just five hits. He struck out three and didn’t allow a walk, needing only 86 pitches over seven innings. Yet the Mets still lost their third straight and fifth in six games, putting them back at .500 (52-52) less than a week after being four over, their season-best.
“Any time you get a performance like that, it’s unfortunate not to get the win,” said New York manager Willie Randolph, whose team also lost to Houston in a strong outing by Pedro Martinez on Thursday night. “Andy threw very well. He knows how to get out of jams. He was able to get out of things when he needed to.”
Pettitte allowed the leadoff man on in each of the first three innings, when he was struggling to locate his fastball. Once he got in a groove, his cutter became more effective and the Mets got just one hit over his last five innings.
Pettitte got him to hit a soft comebacker for an easy out at first base. Heading to the dugout knowing his night was done, Pettitte pumped his fist and let out a deep breath. He also got a nice ovation from the crowd of 43,596, Houston’s largest this season and the third-best in the 6-year history of Minute Maid Park.
The Astros got another run in the eighth off reliever Braden Looper. Pinch-hitter Orlando Palmeiro singled and moved to third when Looper threw wildly to second on a dribbler by Willy Taveras, then scored on a single by Morgan Ensberg. Lane ended the rally by grounding into a double play.
Brad Lidge pitched a perfect ninth for his 26th save in 29 chances. It was his second in as many days and his 10th in as many tries.
Carlos Beltran continued to get booed by Houston fans still angry over his decision to join the Mets. Batting cleanup, he was 0-for-3 against Pettitte and struck out to end the game.
Despite all the great pitching, this game’s most entertaining sequence was Miguel Cairo’s at-bat in the sixth inning with Reyes at first base.
First, Cairo hit a foul ball down that outfielder-turned-first baseman Berkman dropped; second baseman Craig Biggio was there, too, and likely could’ve made an easier catch. Then Pettitte appeared to have Reyes picked off, but shortstop Adam Everett made a bad throw to Berkman and was charged with an error.
Finally, Cairo hit a line drive to left field that converted second baseman Chris Burke snagged with a backhanded dive. While receiving a standing ovation, Burke stomped back in place a chunk of turf he’d taken up.
Reyes has hit in 13 straight games. … Everett’s error was only his third in 63 games. … With a first-inning single, Houston’s Biggio tied Al Oliver for 46th on the career hit list with No. 2,743. … All three games this series have been sellouts. The Astros had only six beforehand.