Astros-Mets Preview

The Associated Press

Not even a visit from the lowly Houston Astros is enough to believe the New York Mets will end their latest skid.

The Mets look to avoid matching a season high with their sixth consecutive defeat Friday night by extending the Astros' losing streak to eight.

New York (57-68) totaled five runs while being swept by Colorado in a four- game home series. The Mets stranded 12 runners in Thursday's 1-0 loss, the sixth straight contest they've been held to two or fewer runs. It's the first time that has happened since a streak of seven in a row Sept. 17-21, 1982.

The Mets, 11-28 since the All-Star break, have averaged 2.5 runs while losing 15 of 17 at Citi Field.

"It's a nightmare for everybody in this clubhouse," said catcher Josh Thole, who is 1 for 20 in his last seven games. "It keeps mounting up. You can only say we've got to put this behind us so many times."

It would seem hosting a Houston club that is a major league-worst 39-86 and has dropped 43 of 50 would give New York a chance to get back on track. However, the Astros outscored the Mets 18-7 while sweeping a three-game set at Minute Maid Park from April 30-May 2, and they've won three of five in Queens.

New York star David Wright, who went 3 for 13 against the Rockies, is batting .231 (6 for 26) in eight games versus Houston at Citi Field.

One bright spot for the Mets is scheduled starter Jonathon Niese (10-6, 3.49 ERA), who has allowed a solo homer and struck out 13 in 15 1-3 innings to win his last two starts. He fanned seven in 7 1-3 innings of a 2-0 victory at Washington on Saturday.

"It seems like when you need him most, he steps up," manager Terry Collins said.

While Collins and the Mets need him to step up again, Niese must do better than his last outing versus Houston when he gave up five runs on two homers in three innings of a 6-3 loss May 1. That effort dropped the left-hander to 1-2 with a 3.52 ERA in four starts against the Astros.

Ben Francisco had three hits and Jose Altuve drove in two runs as Houston built an early 3-0 lead before things unraveled in a 13-5 loss at St. Louis on Thursday.

"They compete and they kept grinding out at-bats," said interim Astros manager Tony DeFrancesco, whose team has been outscored 32-8 while going 0-4 since he replaced the fired Brad Mills. "The good side for us, we scored five runs."

Altuve has batted .394 (13 for 33) in his last eight games but is 3 for 12 against the Mets this season.

Jordan Lyles (2-10, 5.70) will again try to record his first career road win when he faces the Mets for the first time. The right-hander is 0-10 with a 6.99 ERA in 17 starts away from home.

His last outing came at home Saturday when he gave up seven runs - five earned - in four innings of a 12-4 loss to Arizona that dropped him to 0-6 with a 6.79 ERA in nine starts since beating San Diego on June 26.

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