May 3, 2002: Fifteen Hits Pound Astros

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Date: May 3, 2002
Mets starter: Pedro Astacio
Mets: 11
Astros: 3
Winning pitcher: Pedro Astacio
Key player(s): John Valentin, Jay Payton, Jeromy Burnitz
Key play: Valentin’s two-run double & two-run homer, Payton’s two homers

The Mets faced the Astros on a Friday night in Houston. The teams played the opener of a three-game weekend series. The Mets collected a total of fifteen hits in an 11-3 win.

Astros’ starter Dave Mlicki pitched a perfect top of the first inning. With two outs in the bottom half, Jeff Bagwell homered against the Mets’ Pedro Astacio for a 1-0 Houston lead. Lance Berkman drew a walk and Astacio retired Daryle Ward on a pop-up to shortstop John Valentin to end the inning. Jeromy Burnitz was hit by a pitch with one out in the top of the second. Valentin followed with a double that sent Burnitz to third base. Jay Payton flied out to center fielder Berkman and an intentional walk to Roger Cedeno loaded the bases. Mlicki struck out Astacio to finish off the inning. Pedro then set down the Astros in order in the bottom half.

Edgardo Alfonzo got a one-out single in the top of the third. Alfonzo stole second base and Mike Piazza drew a walk. Mo Vaughn went down on strikes and Burnitz singled to score Alfonzo with the tying run. An ensuing double by Valentin brought home Piazza and Burnitz to put the Mets ahead, 3-1. Mlicki got Payton on an inning-ending pop-up to second baseman Craig Biggio and singled to lead off the bottom half. Biggio followed with a ground ball to Valentin for a double play. Astacio then retired Gregg Zaun on a grounder to first baseman Vaughn for the final out of the inning.

The Mets failed to score despite singles by Roberto Alomar and Alfonzo in the top of the fourth. Astacio hurled a perfect bottom half and Burnitz singled with one out in the top of the fifth. Valentin hit a two-run homer to increase the Mets’ lead to 5-1. Payton followed with homer for another New York run and Cedeno flied out to Berkman. Astacio hit a single and Mlicki was replaced on the mound by Houston reliever Brandon Puffer, who got Alomar to fly out to left fielder Ward and end the inning. Astacio then shut down the Astros in the bottom half.

Houston’s Scott Linebrink retired the Mets 1-2-3 in the top of the sixth. With one out in the bottom of the inning, Bagwell hit his second homer of the game to reduce the Mets’ lead to 6-2. Astacio got Berkman and Ward on consecutive outfield fly balls to close out the inning. Linebrink hurled a scoreless top of the seventh and back-to-back singles by Richard Hidalgo and Morgan Ensberg against Mets’ reliever David Weathers began the bottom half. Weathers responded with strikeouts of Julio Lugo and pinch-hitter Orlando Merced. David then retired Biggio on a ground ball back to the mound to end the inning.

Astros’ reliever Ricky Stone shut down the Mets in the top of the eighth. For New York, Scott Strickland retired three straight Houston batters after a leadoff single by Zaun in the bottom half. Burnitz hit a solo homer against Stone with one out in the top of the ninth. Valentin drew a walk and Payton followed with his second homer to lengthen the Mets’ lead to 9-2. Brad Lidge came in to pitch for the Astros and gave up a single to Cedeno. Pinch-hitter Timo Perez flied out to Berkman and a double by Alomar scored Cedeno from first base. A pinch-hit single by Joe McEwing drove home Alomar with the Mets’ eleventh run of the game. Lidge then retired Piazza on a grounder to shortstop Lugo to close out the inning.

To start the bottom of the ninth, Mets’ reliever Armando Benitez got Hidalgo to pop out to Vaughn. Ensberg doubled and moved to third base on an ensuing single by Lugo. Pinch-hitter Brian Hunter singled to score Ensberg with the third Houston run. Benitez then struck out Biggio and retired Zaun on a ground ball to second baseman Alomar that ended the game. The Mets had a solid victory to begin the series.