Maine goes seven strong as Mets roll
John Maine was sitting quietly at his locker when reliever Pedro Feliciano walked over and started teasing him about getting past the fifth inning in Friday night's start.
"No more tests," Feliciano said as Maine grinned.
No more tests, indeed.
Maine tossed seven solid innings, Jeff Francoeur and Daniel Murphy homered and the New York Mets beat the Houston Astros 7-1 in the opener of their final series of the season.
"It's always good to end a season on a good note," Maine said.
David Wright had an RBI double in the first and finished with three hits for New York, which had lost four of five - including an embarrassing three-game sweep at Washington.
Maine (7-6), who was activated Sept. 13 after being sidelined for three months with a sore right shoulder, allowed one run and five hits in his longest outing since he pitched seven innings on July 23, 2008, against Philadelphia. The right-hander also became the first Mets pitcher to win six consecutive home starts since Sid Fernandez in 1990.
Maine struck out seven and walked none while improving to 4-1 with a 3.28 ERA in five career starts against Houston.
"I'm just out there kind of working on a couple things and just trying to pitch to contact a little more," said Maine, who has just four walks in four starts since coming off the DL. "Don't know why I didn't try it before because the walks always hurt me."
The Mets began the season with high hopes this last series would consist of a few final at-bats and getting the rotation in order before the playoffs. Instead, an avalanche of injuries and shoddy play combined to take the drama out of New York's last couple weeks of the year.
The Mets were eliminated from postseason contention on the final day of each of the last two seasons. It was over much quicker in their first year at Citi Field.
Wandy Rodriguez (14-12) completed a breakout season with six effective innings for Houston, which has lost three of four. He allowed three runs and eight hits.
"This year he's put himself in a good position to be one of the best in the league," interim manager Dave Clark said.
Rodriguez was one of the only bright spots this year for the Astros, mired in fifth in the NL Central. The 30-year-old left-hander had a career-high 14 wins, 33 starts, 205 2-3 innings and 193 strikeouts.
"I have to thank God that I didn't have any injuries and finished strong this year," he said.
Houston also dropped to 4-7 under Clark, who took over when Cecil Cooper was fired Sept. 21. Clark is trying to make a case to stay on as the season winds down.
Francoeur connected in the sixth, hitting a two-run drive just over the wall in left to give New York a 3-1 lead. It was Francoeur's 10th homer since he was acquired from Atlanta on July 10 and 15th overall this season.
"He's playing extremely well," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "He comes with a lot of energy every day."
Murphy had a pinch-hit, two-run shot in New York's four-run eighth, picking up his team-leading 12th homer.
Bobby Parnell worked the eighth and Sean Green finished for the Mets. Francisco Rodriguez, who surrendered a game-ending grand slam to Justin Maxwell in the Nationals' 7-4 victory Wednesday night, warmed up in the eighth but sat down when it became a non-save situation.
Geoff Blum drove in Houston's run with a fielder's choice in the fourth.
"We just couldn't get the bats going," Clark said.
Astros SS Miguel Tejada singled in the first to extend his hitting streak to 19 games. ... The Mets had no update on SS Jose Reyes, who is contemplating whether to have surgery on the troublesome right hamstring that sidelined him for most of this season. ... Houston RF Hunter Pence made a leaping catch to take a hit away from Luis Castillo in the fifth. ... Nick Evans hit New York's 47th triple of the season in the seventh inning, tying the franchise record set in 1978 and equaled in 1996. ... Mets pitchers issued no walks for the fifth time this season.