Astros
Mets
8 - 3 Final
  for this game

Berkman helps Astros top Maine, Mets

Aug 24, 2008 - 4:37 AM By Larry Fleisher PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

FLUSHING, New York (Ticker) -- On Friday, the Houston Astros had a well-pitched game and could not get the big hit. One night later, they were able to combine both elements.

Brandon Backe pitched effectively into the eighth inning and Lance Berkman homered and drove in four runs as the Astros posted an 8-3 victory over the New York Mets on Saturday night.

Berkman led a 12-hit attack, falling a triple shy of the cycle, and Miguel Tejada added three hits and two RBI.

"I felt pretty good," Berkman said. "This time of year where you kind of get a little tired, you appreciate games like this because they don't come around as often as they do early in the season, when you have good bat speed."

The All-Star first baseman posted his first three-hit game since August 7 and second since the All-Star break. He entered Saturday in a 5-for-24 slump that saw him strand three baserunners on Friday.

"Lance is starting to swing the bat well," Houston manager Cecil Cooper said. "He worked on some things with (hitting coach Sean Berry) today in the cage and it paid off for him. He had a real good batting practice today before the game and he was really hitting the ball sharply, staying in the middle of the field, and tonight, it paid off."

Former Met David Newhan belted a solo home run and Geoff Blum added a run-scoring single for Houston, which won for the third time in nine games following its season-high eight-game winning streak. The Astros also improved to 4-1 against the Mets this season.

The offensive outburst came a night after the Astros managed eight hits off Johan Santana but stranded nine and went hitless in four at-bats with runners in scoring position. That resulted in a tough loss for ace Roy Oswalt, who went the distance and retired the final 20 hitters.

"Some of those balls that we hit against Santana, if you get one of those to fall in, it's a different ballgame maybe. But different night and different result," Berkman said. "That's why you play them.

"You can't expect the same thing to happen every night, and I think the key for us if we continue to give ourselves a chance with runners in scoring position, eventually somebody's going to get a hit."

Backe (8-12) nearly matched Oswalt, retiring the first 14 hitters he faced before issuing a two-out walk to rookie Daniel Murphy in the fifth. He lost his no-hit bid when Murphy scored on Ryan Church's base hit to right in the fifth inning.

"They have a very good lineup," Backe said. "I just had a two-seamer on the third base side of the plate that was working really well and stuck to it. I kept them off-balance. I watched what Roy did and used what I could use from him. I had the stuff tonight to figure it out on my own."

Backe also allowed Brian Schneider's two-run homer - his fourth blast in six games - in the eighth among five hits in seven-plus innings. The righthander, who had allowed 11 runs in two of his previous three starts, struck out four, walked one and threw 65 of 102 pitches for strikes.

"I was really pleased with how he attacked the zone with his fastball," Cooper said. "It was something that we really talked to Brandon about, trying to make sure that you don't pitch with your off-speed stuff, you pitch with your fastball. And he's done a much-better job of that, I think, the last couple of times out there.

"We just continue to talk to him about that. Tonight, I thought he was really excellent."

Houston did the majority of its' damage off John Maine, who was making his third start since being activated from the disabled list. Maine (10-8) had allowed three hits and struck out nine in 10 scoreless innings over his first two outings but was rocked for season highs of eight runs and 10 hits in 5 2/3 frames in this one.

"Velocity-wise, stuff-wise, I was comfortable with what he was giving us," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "Executing those pitches, (he) probably (was) not comfortable. I think (if) we get to the point of where he is now and stay there and execute, we should be OK."

Maine's outing was a rare sub-par one for New York, which had recorded four shutouts in its previous 15 games.

"I still don't feel like I've got a good fastball," said Maine, who missed two weeks with a mild strain of his right rotator cuff. "But it's improving. It's getting better each time out."

The Astros rallied for four runs in the third and three in the sixth as they scored more than seven for the first time since a 12-4 win over San Francisco on August 12.

Houston opened the scoring on Blum's RBI single in the second and made it 2-0 when Tejada's base hit to right field drove in Backe. Just one pitch later, Berkman hit his 26th home run over the left field wall for a five-run advantage.

Newhan led off the sixth with his blast, launching a 1-2 pitch over the right field wall for his first home run since May 12, 2007 as a member of the Mets. The Astros chased Maine with consecutive two-out singles by Darin Erstad and Michael Bourn and scored their final two runs on singles off Duaner Sanchez by Tejada and Berkman.

Church's first RBI since being activated from the disabled list Friday and Schneider's sixth home run of the year were the lone highlights for the Mets, who had a four-game winning streak snapped. New York (72-58) lost for just the second time in 12 games and also saw its lead over the Philadelphia Phillies (70-59) in the National League East reduced to 1 1/2 games.






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    Astros 8, Mets 3  FinalAug 23 9:47 PM


  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    HOUSTON 0 1 4 0 0 3 0 0 0 8 12 0
    NY METS 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 0 3 6 0 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: HOU - BRANDON BACKE, TIM BYRDAK (8TH), GEOFF GEARY (9TH) AND
    HUMBERTO QUINTERO
    NYM - JOHN MAINE, DUANER SANCHEZ (6TH), JOE SMITH
    (7TH), BRIAN STOKES (8TH) AND BRIA

    Aug 23 9:46 PM
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    Astros 8, Mets 3  Top 9, 0 OutsAug 23 9:35 PM


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    AT NY METS - SCORING UPDATE
    TWO-RUN HOME RUN BY BRIAN SCHNEIDER (6) TO RIGHT CENTER
    WITH 0 OUT IN THE 8TH OFF BRANDON BACKE SCORED RYAN CHURCH.
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 8, NY METS 3
    DUE UP FOR NY METS: E CHAVEZ (.272, 1 HR, 11 RBI)

    Astros 8, Mets 3  Bot 8, 0 OutsAug 23 9:20 PM


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    AT NY METS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY LANCE BERKMAN SCORED MICHAEL BOURN.
    SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, L BERKMAN ON FIRST, M TEJADA ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 8
    NY METS 1 TOP, 6TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: G BLUM (.236, 1-FOR-2, BB, RBI)

    Astros 8, Mets 1  Top 6, 0 OutsAug 23 8:45 PM


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    AT NY METS - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY DAVID NEWHAN (1) TO RIGHT WITH 0 OUT IN
    THE 6TH OFF JOHN MAINE.
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 6, NY METS 1
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: H QUINTERO (.239, 0-FOR-2)

    Astros 6, Mets 1  Top 6, 0 OutsAug 23 8:31 PM


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    AT NY METS - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY RYAN CHURCH SCORED DAN MURPHY.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, R CHURCH ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 5
    NY METS 1 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR NY METS: B SCHNEIDER (.256, 0-FOR-1)

    Astros 5, Mets 1  Bot 5, 0 OutsAug 23 8:26 PM
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    Astros 5, Mets 1  Bot 5, 0 OutsAug 23 8:26 PM
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    Astros 5, Mets 0  Bot 5, 0 OutsAug 23 8:16 PM
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    Astros 5, Mets 0  Top 5, 0 OutsAug 23 8:08 PM


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    AT NY METS - SCORING UPDATE
    THREE-RUN HOME RUN BY LANCE BERKMAN (26) TO LEFT WITH 1 OUT
    IN THE 3RD OFF JOHN MAINE SCORED DARIN ERSTAD AND MIGUEL TEJADA.
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 5, NY METS 0
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: G BLUM (.237, 1-FOR-1, RBI)

    Astros 5, Mets 0  Top 3, 0 OutsAug 23 7:47 PM


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    AT NY METS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY MIGUEL TEJADA SCORED BRANDON BACKE.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, M TEJADA ON FIRST, D ERSTAD ON THIRD, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 2
    NY METS 0 TOP, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: L BERKMAN (.330, 1-FOR-1)

    Astros 2, Mets 0  Top 3, 0 OutsAug 23 7:46 PM


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    AT NY METS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY GEOFF BLUM SCORED LANCE BERKMAN.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, G BLUM ON FIRST, 0 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 1
    NY METS 0 TOP, 2ND
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: T WIGGINTON (.304, 16 HR, 43 RBI)

    Astros 1, Mets 0  Top 2, 0 OutsAug 23 7:26 PM
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