Mets-Astros Preview

The Associated Press

The New York Mets and Houston Astros were expected to be among the worst teams in the NL this season.

So far, David Wright and the Mets are among the best.

Wright and the Mets will try to conclude an impressive month on a positive note Monday night in the opener of a three-game road set against the Astros.

New York (13-9) and Houston (8-14) both finished well out of playoff contention last season and that's expected to be the case again in 2012.

The Mets, however, have surpassed expectations in the first month, owning one of the league's best records after winning for the fifth time in six games Sunday. They're batting .312 and averaging 5.3 runs during that stretch.

Their strong play continued Sunday with a 6-5 win in 11 innings at Colorado. Ike Davis singled in the go-ahead run and the Mets overcame two tying homers allowed by their bullpen.

"There were some very positive things on a day when we should have won this game a lot easier than we did," manager Terry Collins said.

Wright is hitting .397 with three homers and 14 RBIs after enduring his worst offensive season in 2011. He struggled through injuries and had a .254 average, 14 home runs and 61 RBIs.

The All-Star third baseman is 9 for 20 with three doubles, one homer and six RBIs in the past six games.

Wright, though, is 4 for 32 with two homers in his last 10 meetings with Houston, and is 0 for 8 with four strikeouts against Bud Norris, Monday's scheduled starter.

The Mets will give the ball to R.A. Dickey (3-1, 4.44 ERA) hoping he can build on perhaps his best start of the season.

The knuckleballer yielded one run and three hits with seven strikeouts in seven innings of a 5-1 win over Miami on Wednesday. That effort came a week after he turned in one of his poorest performances since joining the Mets two years ago, getting tagged for eight runs and three homers in 4 1-3 innings of a 14-6 loss at Atlanta.

Dickey went 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in two starts against the Astros last season.

Houston returns home to open a nine-game homestand after going 5-11 in a stretch that included one home series - losing two of three to Los Angeles from April 20-22.

"Last time we were home it's like we were just stopping by," manager Brad Mills told the team's official website.

The Astros concluded a 2-4 trip by squandering a two-run, seventh-inning lead in a 6-5 loss at Cincinnati on Sunday.

Jose Altuve is trying to conclude the month with another strong performance at the plate. The second baseman has been a pleasant surprise, leading the team with a .373 average, seven doubles and three triples while adding 10 RBIs and 15 runs.

He collected three more hits Sunday, giving him a .452 average over the past seven games.

Norris (1-1, 5.84) was hit hard in his most recent start, yielding a career high-tying seven runs and nine hits - three homers - over 5 2-3 innings in a 9-6 loss at Milwaukee on Tuesday.

The right-hander is 1-1 with a 4.85 ERA in four career starts against the Mets, going 1-0 with a 3.77 ERA in two at home.

New York took two of three at Houston from May 13-15.

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