Extra MustardSI On CampusFantasyPhoto GalleriesSwimsuitVideoFanNationSI KidsTNT
Updated: Thursday, April 24, 2003 11:36 PM EDT
Houston Astros
Team Page | Schedule | Injuries
Stats: Batting | Pitching
4 8 0
New York Mets
Team Page | Schedule | Injuries
Stats: Batting | Pitching
7 10 1
W Astacio (1-0)
L Miller (0-2)
S Benitez (7)
Recap | Box Score | Lineup | ScoreCast | Game Log | How They Scored | Today's Scoreboard

FLUSHING, New York (Ticker) -- A gaping hole in the New York Mets ' rotation was filled by Pedro Astacio .

Astacio pitched six effective innings in his season debut and Roberto Alomar had a pair of RBI doubles to lead the Mets to a 7-4 win over the Houston Astros in the rubber game of a three-game series.

Astacio (1-0) had been on the disabled list since the start of the season with tendinitis in his pitching shoulder. But he allowed just two runs and four hits with a walk and four strikeouts.

With David Cone on the disabled list and his value questionable should he return, the Mets sorely need a healthy and effective Astacio, who was 12-11 last season, as the No. 3 starter behind Tom Glavine and Al Leiter .

"It was a good start," Astacio said. "They want me, they need me, and I want to be there. Grab the ball every fifth day and do it, and I did that."

A strong year from Alomar, who struggled through his first season with the Mets, also would not hurt. He raised his average to .296 with run-scoring doubles in the second and fifth innings.

Mo Vaughn also drove in two runs with groundouts in the first and fourth.

The Mets, who matched a season high for runs, played without catcher Mike Piazza , who was a late scratch due to a sore groin.

Astacio started slowly, hitting Craig Biggio with a pitch and giving up a single to Geoff Blum . But he got Jeff Bagwell to hit into a double play as Houston settled for one run.

"I'm a big Pedro Astacio fan," said Bagwell, who had an RBI single in the sixth. "If he's healthy, he's going to be fine."

"He got us out to the bullpen with a little margin for error," Mets manager Art Howe said. "I liked the way he attacked the strike zone."

Scott Strickland pitched two scoreless innings, but Jaime Cerda made it interesting in the ninth by allowing home runs to Lance Berkman and Jeff Kent .

Armando Benitez retired the only batter he faced to earn his seventh save and second in as many nights. It was another confidence boost for Benitez, who has four blown saves this season.

Wade Miller (0-2), a 15-game winner last year, lasted just three innings, allowing six runs, four walks and five hits.

"I'm just trying to work through things that aren't there yet as far as mechanics and everything else," said Miller, whose ERA rose to 5.47. "I'm just trying to throw the ball too hard."

The Astros lost for the ninth time in 12 games.

Astacio had a single to start a four-run fourth for New York. Miller walked Alomar and Jay Bell before ex-Met Bruce Chen relieved.

Cliff Floyd hit a sacrifice fly and Vaughn had an RBI groundout before Raul Gonzalez reached on a bunt single.

"I looked up and the fielders were playing back," Gonzalez said. "I've never done that with two outs. It worked this time."

Timo Perez followed with an RBI double to right field, increasing the Mets' lead to 6-1.

© 2005 STATS, Inc