Harrell, though, is coming off his worst outing since the All-Star break and the Astros are seeking to bounce back from their first loss to the Mets this year in Sunday's series finale.
Houston (40-87) is on pace to surpass its franchise-worst 106 losses from 2011 and needs to win at least 16 of its final 35 games to avoid that dubious feat. That doesn't appear likely given that it has won only eight of its last 52.
The Astros do have one more game against the Mets (58-69), a club they had beaten four straight times before a 3-1 defeat Saturday. Houston doesn't have a winning record against any other NL team in 2012.
Justin Turner hit his first home run of the season while helping New York snap a six-game skid, but he could be out of the lineup Sunday after starting consecutive games in place of the resting Daniel Murphy .
Harrell (10-9, 4.04 ERA) will try to help Houston rebound from that loss while regaining the form he showed in his first seven second-half starts. The right-hander was 3-2 with a 2.06 ERA over those games, allowing two runs or fewer in each, but the Missouri native gave up six over five innings of a 7-0 loss in St. Louis on Tuesday.
"I felt like I let everybody down," Harrell told the Astros' official website. "I wasn't at my best. I'm very disappointed, frustrated and disappointed - all of those words come into play."
Harrell will make his first start against the Mets and Jeremy Hefner (2-5, 5.11) will make his first versus the Astros in his first game since his wife Sarah gave birth to a girl named Jaylee on Wednesday.
Hefner will try to follow that event with an improved performance. The right-hander rejoined the Mets' rotation last Sunday and gave up five runs - including two homers - in five innings of a 5-2 loss at Washington in his first start in two weeks.
"Sometimes you get away with mistakes, and sometimes you don't, and today, I didn't get away with any," Hefner said.
With Houston heading to the AL next season, this game will mark the teams' final meeting as NL opponents. Among the highlights in the rivalry was a six-game NL championship series in 1986 that the Mets won en route to their most recent World Series title.
|August 22, 2012||Justin Maxwell||Day-to-Day||Bruised right index finger|
|August 07, 2012||Jordan Schafer||15-Day DL||Left shoulder separation|
|August 02, 2012||Francisco Cordero||15-Day DL||Inflamed right big toe|
|July 31, 2012||Wilton Lopez||Day-to-Day||Right elbow tightness|
|July 15, 2012||Jed Lowrie||15-Day DL||Sprained right ankle|
|July 14, 2012||Jed Lowrie||Day-to-Day||Right ankle|
|New York Mets|
|August 18, 2012||Johan Santana||15-Day DL||Lower back inflammation|
|August 15, 2012||Rob Johnson||15-Day DL||Torn ligament, left thumb|
|August 02, 2012||Tim Byrdak||15-Day DL||Sore left shoulder|
|July 31, 2012||Andres Torres||Day-to-Day||Strained right thumb|
|July 31, 2012||Jason Bay||Day-to-Day||Bruised left calf|
|July 21, 2012||Johan Santana||15-Day DL||Sprained right ankle|
NEW YORK (AP) -- Lucas Duda was recalled from the minor leagues to provide some pop in a scuffling lineup. Surprisingly, it was his play in the outfield that helped the most in his first game back.
The new left fielder cut down a runner at the plate to preserve a tie in the ninth inning, then Ike Davis hit his second homer of the day with one out in the bottom half, lifting the New York Mets over the Houston Astros 2-1 on Sunday.
"It was a great throw by Duda, giving us a chance to keep it tied," catcher Kelly Shoppach said of his teammate, who is often criticized for being a sub-par outfielder.
The Mets took two of three from the last-place Astros for their first home series win since early July.
Rookies Jeremy Hefner and Lucas Harrell engaged in a crisp duel for seven innings. Hefner took a shutout into the ninth before giving up a tying double to Marwin Gonzalez .
Gonzalez then tried to score on Ben Francisco 's single off Bobby Parnell (3-3) and Duda, brought up from Triple-A Buffalo earlier in the day, made a strong throw home.
Shoppach took Duda's slightly high throw and stuck his left leg out to block the plate. Gonzalez tried to slide around him and reach back for the plate, but Shoppach used his body to prevent Gonzalez from slipping in a hand. Gonzalez jumped up and slammed his helmet down after being called out. He was ejected by home plate umpire Dave Rackley.
"It was a bang-bang play. The umpire got it right but I thought it could have went either way," Astros interim manager Tony DeFrancesco said. "It was a heck of a play by the catcher squashing him off the plate."
Davis' drive off Wilton Lopez (5-2) just cleared the top of the right-field wall - and the glove of a leaping Francisco - for the second game-ending homer of his career - a homer under the new Citi Field dimensions. He took a leaping 360-degree spin into his awaiting teammates at the plate.
"I thought I hit it a little better than I did. Outfielder kind of deked me a little bit," Davis said. "Thought I'd look like a fool because I didn't run out of the box. ... First one I got pretty good."
Davis connected off Harrell leading off the fourth, launching a shot about halfway up the second deck in right to help the Mets snap a skid of six straight series losses at Citi Field. Since taking two of three from Philadelphia July 3-5, New York has gone 5-16 at home.
Batting .199 on July 4, Davis has lifted his average to .223 and he has 24 homers this season.
The Mets took two of three in the final series at Citi Field with Houston being a National League team. The Astros join the AL West next season.
At Buffalo, Duda worked on playing in left field after starting 80 games in the right for New York. Often looking lost in the field before he was sent down on July 24 because he was slumping at the plate, Duda couldn't come up with a difficult catch in the ninth that allowed Houston to tie it 1-all, spoiling Hefner's fine outing.
"I thought he looked great out there. He looks comfortable," manager Terry Collins said. "As far as that ball goes, he ran a long way for that ball. And any time you dive toward that wall, there's issues. I thought he did fine. Of course, he made a great throw, too."
Said Duda: "I'm not going to be a Gold Glover in left because I switched positions."
Pinch-hitter Jose Altuve led off the ninth with a single and Mets manager Terry Collins chose to leave Hefner in. Gonzalez then hit a low liner down the left-field line. Duda made the long run and the ball hit of his glove as he tried to make the catch and avoid hitting the wall.
Altuve scored and Gonzalez landed on second base chasing Hefner.
"Jeremy pitched a great game," Collins said. "That's why he deserved to go out there in the ninth inning."
Hefner made seven career starts coming in and had little success, going 2-4 with a 5.63 ERA. He was again added to the Mets rotation a week ago when they expanded to a six-man staff. In his first outing, he gave up five runs over five innings in a loss at Washington.
This time he was dominant against a team with a league-low .238 average, giving up a run and five hits in eight-plus innings. He struck out seven.
Hefner received a nice ovation from the 25,071 when he batted in the eighth inning with Shoppach on first base. Hefner sacrificed him to second and returned to the dugout to another round of applause.
Harrell came in the leader in innings pitched for rookies and had won 25 percent of the Astros' 40 games. He was second to Wade Miley in wins for rookies in the NL and led the league with 151 1-3 innings pitched.
He showed how good he was Sunday, giving up two hits and a run with four of his seven strikeouts coming with the batter caught looking.
NOTES: Duda went 0 for 2 with a walk. ... The Mets optioned OF Jordany Valdespin to Buffalo. Valdespin has five pinch-hit homers, most in a season by a Mets player. ... RHP Armando Galarraga has chosen to become a free agent rather than accepting an assignment to the minors after being designated for assignment by the Astros last week. ... Astros OF Justin Maxwell missed his fifth consecutive start with a bruised right index finger. He will see a doctor Monday and could be headed to the disabled list. ... Mets 2B Daniel Murphy has a posterior strain in right shoulder. He will have an MRI on Monday. He first felt it on the bench before his at-bat in the eighth inning.