Backed by infielder's third spring homer, righty works four scoreless
By Brian McTaggart and Anthony DiComo
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- David Wright continued his hot month at the plate with a two-run homer off former teammate Collin McHugh on Tuesday in the Mets' 4-3 loss to the Astros at Tradition Field.
Wright's drive in the third inning was one of only two hits the Mets mustered all day, and both came off McHugh, who struck out seven in five innings. McHugh's Mets counterpart, fifth starter Dillon Gee, worked four scoreless innings.
Houston pitchers retired 16 straight batters until James Hoyt walked Kirk Nieuwenhuis with two outs in the ninth.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Gee whiz: Making his second start since the Mets moved him into Zack Wheeler's rotation spot, Gee blanked the Astros over four innings, allowing one walk and four hits. And he did it despite using only his fastball and changeup the first time through the batting order, recording 10 of his 12 total outs on ground balls. "It's always nice to me when I get a lot of ground balls," Gee said. "I'm a sinker guy. I like to use the defense."
The difference: The Astros jumped ahead with a pair of eighth-inning runs thanks in part to shortstop Carlos Correa, the third-best prospect in the game, according to MLB.com. Correa hit a two-out infield single, and after Robbie Grossman walked, Correa scored from second on a Gregorio Petit single. L.J. Hoes followed with a tiebreaking single.
The Wright stuff: Wright's spring power surge continued with his third home run in six games, a two-run shot off McHugh in the third inning. The third baseman has knocked in at least one run in six of his last seven games, with multiple RBIs in three of them. He'll receive a routine off-day Wednesday against the Yankees.
Stretching out: McHugh enjoyed his longest out of the spring, throwing 80 pitches and allowing three runs while walking one. The right-hander has two starts remaining before he'll take the mound in the regular season.
Liftoff: Astros third baseman Luis Valbuena collected a pair of hits, including a double, to lift his Grapefruit League average to .429. Jake Marisnick pulled Houston within a run in the seventh with a solo homer, his first of the spring.
Unhittable: Kevin Chapman and Luke Gregerson worked a scoreless sixth, and Pat Neshek, Will Harris and Hoyt each threw a scoreless inning. Hoyt hasn't allowed an earned run in seven innings pitched this spring, while Gregerson was pitching in consecutive games for the first this spring.
"He's been around a long time. He deserves it. And after that first few days, it doesn't matter. Opening Day's a great thing -- I'm very glad that I got Opening Day last year, got that experience. But after that first few days, who remembers?" -- Gee, the Mets' 2014 Opening Day starter, on 2015 Opening Day pitcher Bartolo Colon
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• Before going deep three times this spring, Wright had not homered in a big league game since July 11, a span of more than eight months.