Astros-Mets Preview

The Associated Press

The Houston Astros own the worst record in baseball and seemingly destined for a second consecutive 100-loss season.

Still, the New York Mets haven't managed to beat them this year, and their offense isn't inspiring much confidence.

R.A. Dickey could use some help from the bats as he tries to end the Mets' six-game skid with their first win over the Astros on Saturday.

Houston (40-86) lost a franchise-record 106 games in 2011, and the club may be headed for the century mark again after dropping 43 of its last 51. A third losing season cost manager Brad Mills his job last week.

The Astros haven't looked dire when facing the Mets (57-69), winning all four meetings while hitting six homers. They took the opener of this three-game series 3-1 on Friday, giving Tony DeFrancesco his first win as a major league manager.

New York's struggles against Houston include hitting .202 with one homer and eight runs after being held to four hits Friday. The Mets have hit .218 and plated eight runs during their current losing streak, failing to score more than two in any of those contests.

The Mets, tied with Miami for last in the NL East, have gone seven games in a row without scoring more than two runs for the first time since September 1982.

"We've got to give our pitchers a little more room for error," said third baseman David Wright, who hit his 200th homer Friday and ranks third in franchise history.

Dickey (15-4, 2.82 ERA) is well aware of the Mets' shortcomings at the plate. He's been backed by one run in four of his last six starts while going 2-3 with a 2.79 ERA.

New York wasted another superb outing from the right-handed knuckleballer Monday, when he yielded one run and three hits in seven innings and didn't get a decision in a 3-1 loss to Colorado.

"It's tough, because the first half of the season, we scored a lot of runs and the offense really picked up the pitchers," Dickey said. "So it would be great to have a couple of games where we don't hit the ball where the pitchers pick the hitters up. It doesn't always work that way."

Dickey has certainly done his part this year, already setting career highs in wins, strikeouts (181) and complete games (four), ranking among baseball's leaders in each category. He also appeared in his first All-Star game, and was a candidate to get the starting nod.

Like the Mets, though, Dickey hasn't fared well against the Astros, going 0-2 with a 6.05 ERA in his last three starts. He allowed three runs in six innings against them while not getting a decision in a 4-3 loss April 30 at Houston.

The Astros are expected to recall Fernando Abad (0-0, 3.86) from Triple-A Oklahoma City to make his first career start after Armando Galarraga was designated for assignment earlier this week.

Abad, who is in his third year in the majors, has appeared 30 times out of the bullpen in 2012, and went 2-0 with a 3.90 ERA in 13 games - three starts - with Oklahoma City. Each of those starts came this month, as he went 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA.

The left-hander has faced the Mets twice, throwing one scoreless inning.

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