Mets 2, Astros 1

Lucas Duda was recalled from the minor leagues to provide some

pop in a scuffling lineup. Surprisingly, it was his play in the

outfield that helped the most in his first game back.

The new left fielder cut down a runner at the plate to preserve

a tie in the ninth inning, then Ike Davis hit his second homer of

the day with one out in the bottom half, lifting the New York Mets

over the Houston Astros 2-1 on Sunday.

”It was a great throw by Duda, giving us a chance to keep it

tied,” catcher Kelly Shoppach said of his teammate, who is often

criticized for being a sub-par outfielder.

The Mets took two of three from the last-place Astros for their

first home series win since early July.

Rookies Jeremy Hefner and Lucas Harrell engaged in a crisp duel

for seven innings. Hefner took a shutout into the ninth before

giving up a tying double to Marwin Gonzalez.

Gonzalez then tried to score on Ben Francisco’s single off Bobby

Parnell (3-3) and Duda, brought up from Triple-A Buffalo earlier in

the day, made a strong throw home.

Shoppach took Duda’s slightly high throw and stuck his left leg

out to block the plate. Gonzalez tried to slide around him and

reach back for the plate, but Shoppach used his body to prevent

Gonzalez from slipping in a hand. Gonzalez jumped up and slammed

his helmet down after being called out. He was ejected by home

plate umpire Dave Rackley.

”It was a bang-bang play. The umpire got it right but I thought

it could have went either way,” Astros interim manager Tony

DeFrancesco said. ”It was a heck of a play by the catcher

squashing him off the plate.”

Davis’ drive off Wilton Lopez (5-2) just cleared the top of the

right-field wall – and the glove of a leaping Francisco – for the

second game-ending homer of his career – a homer under the new Citi

Field dimensions. He took a leaping 360-degree spin into his

awaiting teammates at the plate.

”I thought I hit it a little better than I did. Outfielder kind

of deked me a little bit,” Davis said. ”Thought I’d look like a

fool because I didn’t run out of the box. … First one I got

pretty good.”

Davis connected off Harrell leading off the fourth, launching a

shot about halfway up the second deck in right to help the Mets

snap a skid of six straight series losses at Citi Field. Since

taking two of three from Philadelphia July 3-5, New York has gone

5-16 at home.

Batting .199 on July 4, Davis has lifted his average to .223 and

he has 24 homers this season.

The Mets took two of three in the final series at Citi Field

with Houston being a National League team. The Astros join the AL

West next season.

At Buffalo, Duda worked on playing in left field after starting

80 games in the right for New York. Often looking lost in the field

before he was sent down on July 24 because he was slumping at the

plate, Duda couldn’t come up with a difficult catch in the ninth

that allowed Houston to tie it 1-all, spoiling Hefner’s fine

outing.

”I thought he looked great out there. He looks comfortable,”

manager Terry Collins said. ”As far as that ball goes, he ran a

long way for that ball. And any time you dive toward that wall,

there’s issues. I thought he did fine. Of course, he made a great

throw, too.”

Said Duda: ”I’m not going to be a Gold Glover in left because I

switched positions.”

Pinch-hitter Jose Altuve led off the ninth with a single and

Mets manager Terry Collins chose to leave Hefner in. Gonzalez then

hit a low liner down the left-field line. Duda made the long run

and the ball hit of his glove as he tried to make the catch and

avoid hitting the wall.

Altuve scored and Gonzalez landed on second base chasing

Hefner.

”Jeremy pitched a great game,” Collins said. ”That’s why he

deserved to go out there in the ninth inning.”

Hefner made seven career starts coming in and had little

success, going 2-4 with a 5.63 ERA. He was again added to the Mets

rotation a week ago when they expanded to a six-man staff. In his

first outing, he gave up five runs over five innings in a loss at

Washington.

This time he was dominant against a team with a league-low .238

average, giving up a run and five hits in eight-plus innings. He

struck out seven.

Hefner received a nice ovation from the 25,071 when he batted in

the eighth inning with Shoppach on first base. Hefner sacrificed

him to second and returned to the dugout to another round of

applause.

Harrell came in the leader in innings pitched for rookies and

had won 25 percent of the Astros’ 40 games. He was second to Wade

Miley in wins for rookies in the NL and led the league with 151 1-3

innings pitched.

He showed how good he was Sunday, giving up two hits and a run

with four of his seven strikeouts coming with the batter caught

looking.

NOTES: Duda went 0 for 2 with a walk. … The Mets optioned OF

Jordany Valdespin to Buffalo. Valdespin has five pinch-hit homers,

most in a season by a Mets player. … RHP Armando Galarraga has

chosen to become a free agent rather than accepting an assignment

to the minors after being designated for assignment by the Astros

last week. … Astros OF Justin Maxwell missed his fifth

consecutive start with a bruised right index finger. He will see a

doctor Monday and could be headed to the disabled list. … Mets 2B

Daniel Murphy has a posterior strain in right shoulder. He will

have an MRI on Monday. He first felt it on the bench before his

at-bat in the eighth inning.