NEW YORK (AP) – The Houston Astros produced a surprising sweep on their road trip as two of their starting pitchers got the better of a former team.
The Astros hope Nelson Figueroa can continue that trend Friday night and help his team to a sixth consecutive victory in the opener of a three-game series at the New York Mets.
Brett Myers started off Houston’s four straight wins over Philadelphia on Monday, and J.A. Happ outdueled All-Star Roy Halladay on Wednesday. The Astros (58-69) completed the set with a 5-1 win the next day, lowering their ERA to 1.38 during their win streak.
“It was a well-played series,” outfielder Carlos Lee told the team’s official website. “We pitched good, got big hits and took opportunities when we got on base. Mainly, we pitched great.”
Figueroa (3-1, 2.98 ERA) will try to follow in his second start against the Mets (63-64) in 11 days. The right-hander played two seasons in New York before being designated for assignment April 5. He was picked up on waivers by Philadelphia two days later, designated for assignment again July 13 and acquired one week after that by Houston, his sixth team in eight seasons.
Figueroa is 1-0 with a 2.42 ERA in 10 appearances with the Astros and allowed two runs over five innings in his first start for them Aug. 17 against the Mets. He didn’t get a decision in that 4-3 victory or in Sunday’s 2-1 win in Florida despite giving up one run over six innings.
“I’m a guy that can throw four pitches for strikes, and there are not a lot of major league starters than can do that,” he said. “For me, it’s a matter of opportunity. One year, if I could get 30 starts, I would love to see what I could do.”
Figueroa made his only other road start against the Mets in 2001 for Philadelphia. His counterpart in Friday’s game, Mike Pelfrey (12-7, 3.80), will try to win for the third time in four starts as he faces the Astros for the first time since Aug. 25, 2008.
Pelfrey, who is trying to match his career high for victories from that same season, is 2-2 with a 4.38 ERA in four career starts against Houston. However, he enters this matchup with a 1.64 ERA in his last three starts and gave up two runs over eight innings in a 7-2 victory at Pittsburgh on Aug. 20.
He’ll try to get some help from David Wright, who is batting .425 over his last 10 games and hit his fourth home run in that span during Thursday’s 11-4 loss to Florida – the Mets’ fourth defeat in five home contests. Wright has batted .393 in his last seven games against Houston but is hitless in five career at-bats against Figueroa.
Shortstop Jose Reyes also aggravated a right oblique strain in the second inning of the team’s latest defeat, and his status is unknown for Friday’s game. The injury forced him to miss the All-Star game last month.
“It’s not that painful right now,” said Reyes, “so hopefully by tomorrow it’ll be OK.”
Lee, who has three homers and 11 RBIs over his last eight games, is 2 for 6 lifetime against Pelfrey.
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