Francoeur, Wright help Mets pour it on

The New York Mets hope their rare offensive outburst Saturday night signals the start of a second-half surge.

Jeff Francoeur hit a three-run homer, David Wright added a solo shot and the Mets snapped a three-game skid with a 10-3 victory over the Houston Astros.

Omir Santos also homered and touted prospect Jonathon Niese, just recalled from the minors, pitched seven impressive innings while cruising to his second major league win. New York matched its season high for homers in a game and reached 10 runs for the third time this year.

“We haven’t had a game like this in a long time, where you just kind of cruise and you don’t have to worry about too much at the end of the game,” Francoeur said.

The Mets wrap up their nine-game road trip Sunday before starting a 10-game homestand Monday night against Colorado. They have a seven-game trip after that and should know by then if they can salvage their disappointing season.

“We’ll either find out if we’re going to be playing for something in the last month, month and a half or whether you’re on the outside looking in,” Francoeur said. “Hopefully, we can kind of get a winning streak together and play for something.”

The injury-ravaged Mets placed outfielder Gary Sheffield (hamstring) on the disabled list before the game, but didn’t need their home run leader to put together one of their best offensive performances this season.

Luis Castillo, Daniel Murphy and Cory Sullivan also drove in runs for the Mets, who had dropped six of their previous eight and averaged 1.5 runs in the losses.

“We swung the bats well,” manager Jerry Manuel said. “It was all good tonight.”

Hunter Pence hit a two-run homer in the ninth for Houston off Francisco Rodriguez. But the Astros mustered only four hits against Niese (1-0), called up from Triple-A Buffalo earlier in the day.

The 22-year-old left-hander struck out three in his sixth big league start. He made two for the Mets in May, but was 5-0 with a 0.72 ERA in his last seven outings in the minors.

“Every time I come back, I try to stay as long as I possibly can,” he said. “I just tried to go back to my Triple-A starts and remember what I did and how I had success there.”

Niese was called up to replace injured starter Fernando Nieve, who tore a muscle in his right thigh trying to beat out a grounder last weekend in Atlanta. The Mets have 10 players on the disabled list.

Niese beat Atlanta last September for his first career win.

Russ Ortiz (3-5) struggled with his control from the start and the Mets took a 3-0 lead in the first inning.

Murphy hit a one-out RBI double and scored on Sullivan’s single. Francoeur also drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.

Niese walked two of his first four batters and Ivan Rodriguez‘s two-out single scored Michael Bourn to make it 3-1. Niese retired 10 in a row after Chris Coste‘s leadoff single in the second.

Ortiz gave up an infield single to Castillo and a walk to Wright in the fifth before left-hander Tim Byrdak relieved. After Murphy flied out, Francoeur drove a 3-1 pitch into the left-field seats, his second homer since joining the Mets in a trade from Atlanta on July 10.

The Mets topped five runs for only the sixth time in 21 games.

Chad Paronto replaced Byrdak for the sixth and Santos led off with a drive into the left-field porch, his second home run of the series. Angel Pagan doubled and scored on Castillo’s single for a 9-1 lead.

“Ortiz did not have a good night and it didn’t stop there. It was just not a good night of pitching,” Houston manager Cecil Cooper said.

Wright, batting only .222 since the All-Star break, hit his first home run since June 30 in the ninth off left-hander Wesley Wright. The All-Star third baseman had gone 75 at-bats without a homer. He has six this year after reaching 30 each of the previous two seasons.


Sheffield went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring, retroactive to July 18. Manuel hopes Sheffield will be able to play by next weekend. The 40-year-old outfielder leads the team with 10 homers and is batting .286 with 36 RBIs in 75 games. … The Mets said RHP John Maine will meet with orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday to get a second opinion on his injured throwing shoulder. Maine has been on the DL since June 7 and said after a simulated game this week that he was still feeling discomfort. … After the game, the Astros activated RHP Chris Sampson from the DL and designated Paronto for assignment. Sampson, also a middle reliever, had been sidelined since July 10 with muscle spasms in his pitching shoulder.