NEW YORK (AP)—Pedro Martinez soaked in every pitch, celebrated his fifth career double and cherished a rare curtain call.
This was one terrific homecoming.
“I’m going to just savor every little bit that I can get from the game from now on,” Martinez said. “I’m just coming back from a surgery that if I have to do it again—see you guys. No more.
“So I’m going to enjoy every little moment that I have, every curtain call, sign as many autographs as I can because it’s not going to last too long.”
The 35-year-old Martinez had shoulder surgery in October and worked five innings in his return to the majors last Monday at Cincinnati, earning the win in New York’s 10-4 victory. He followed that up with a more impressive outing, scattering six hits and striking out four against the skidding Astros.
“Anytime Pedro is out there is positive for me,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “When you have surgery like that and coming back from it and get through a game where you make your pitches and you just continue to just look stronger and stronger, it’s all good.”
Moises Alou hit a two-run homer and Carlos Beltran drove in two runs for New York, which has won eight of nine since it was swept in a four-game series at Philadelphia. The NL East-leading Mets maintained their six-game advantage over the Phillies, who beat Florida 8-5.
Luke Scott homered for Houston, which has lost seven of eight and went 2-7 on its nine-game road trip. The Astros left 15 runners on base Sunday and managed only five runs in the series.
Oswalt (14-7) allowed nine hits and four runs in seven innings, falling to 6-1 with a 2.20 ERA in his last nine starts.
“It wasn’t vintage Roy but it wasn’t vintage Pedro, either,” Astros interim manager Cecil Cooper said. “But he was good enough today.”
Martinez’s start was one part of a big sports day in New York, with tennis star Roger Federer playing in the U.S. Open final across the street from Shea, and the Jets hosting rival New England in their NFL season opener.
The crowd of 51,847 roared when Martinez was introduced with the starting lineup and again as he warmed up before the first inning. One sign hanging from the second deck read “New York (loves) Pedro #45” and there were chants of “Let’s Go Pedro!” throughout.
Houston loaded the bases in the second, put two runners on in the third and loaded the bases again in the fifth, but the three-time Cy Young Award winner emerged unscathed each time.
“He still knows how to pitch,” an admiring Oswalt said.
With the crowd anxiously awaiting each offering, Martinez got Mike Lamb to fly out and end the inning. The right-hander received congratulations from several teammates as he slowly walked off the field, and more high-fives when he reached the dugout.
“I realize I am no more a power pitcher,” said Martinez, who touched 90 mph in the first inning, “so I rely on knowledge, experience and location most of the time.”
Fans continued to cheer and chant “Pedro! Pedro!” until he came out for a rare curtain call for a pitcher, waving his hat to the crowd with a broad smile on his face and his Mets jacket hanging off one arm.
Guillermo Mota allowed Scott’s 18th homer in the sixth before getting Lee to ground into a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded to end the inning.
“We haven’t been doing the job hitting as a team,” Scott said.
Martinez (2-0) also got a warm greeting before his first at-bat in the third, and he responded by drilling a 1-1 pitch from Oswalt over the head of left fielder Lee. It was Martinez’s first double since July 28, 2006, at Atlanta, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“Somebody told me I closed my eyes, and I found it,” a chuckling Martinez said. “I started running in case it fell and it did.”
Martinez went to third on Jose Reyes’ sacrifice and scored on Beltran’s sacrifice fly, giving New York a 2-0 lead.
Astros second baseman Craig Biggio, a native of nearby Smithtown, went 1-for-5 in what almost certainly will be his final game at Shea Stadium. Biggio, who became the 27th member of the 3,000-hit club in June, is retiring after this season—his 20th in the big leagues.
The Mets paid tribute to the seven-time All-Star during a brief pregame ceremony, and Biggio stepped out of the dugout and waved to acknowledge the standing ovation.
Mets 3B David Wright got the day off. Ruben Gotay started in his place. … The Astros are off Monday before beginning a three-game series at home against the Chicago Cubs. … The Mets host Atlanta on Monday in the opener of a three-game set.