Harrell solid, but pair of homers burns Astros

Harrell solid, but pair of homers burns Astros

Harrell solid, but pair of homers burns Astros
NEW YORK -- The Astros had no problems with eight members of the Mets' lineup on Sunday. Ike Davis was another story.

Davis homered twice, including a walk-off blast off Wilton Lopez in the ninth inning to hand Houston a 2-1 loss in front of 25,021 at Citi Field.

The Astros had no answer for Jeremy Hefner for eight innings. Of their three hits, only Marwin Gonzalez's sixth-inning double was for extra bases. They struck out seven times and worked just one walk.

Then came the ninth.

Pinch-hitter Jose Altuve led off with a hard-hit ball to a diving Ruben Tejada, but beat the shortstop's throw to first before stealing second in the ensuing at-bat. Gonzalez followed with a game-tying double down the left-field line -- it bounced off the glove of a sliding Lucas Duda -- and in turn knocked Hefner out of the game.

Duda made up for it two batters later, throwing a bullet to Kelly Shoppach to nab Gonzalez at the plate as he attempted to score on a Ben Francisco single off Bobby Parnell. Gonzalez was ejected after arguing, and he was replaced by Justin Maxwell -- still recovering from a bruised right index finger -- in center in the bottom of the ninth.

"At the time it was bang-bang, could've went either way," Astros interim manager Tony DeFrancesco said. "I couldn't tell if Gonzalez got the bag. But the umpire made the right call. That's a heck of a play by their catcher to push him off the plate."

"It was a close play and it was a very good play," Gonzalez said. "He blocked the base at the last second as I tried to get under.

"I thought I was safe and I threw my hands up, but it was just emotion."

Duda's botched play in left blew the game for the Mets, but his throw home ultimately saved it. It proved to be a pivotal play and enabled New York to win back-to-back games at Citi Field for the first time in more than two months.

Lucas Harrell turned in seven innings of two-hit, one-run ball -- his only mistake the first home run by Davis to lead off the fourth inning. He struck out seven and allowed only Mike Baxter -- courtesy of a second-inning steal -- to reach scoring position.

But the Astros' offense has been the epitome of inconsistency with Harrell on the mound. He either gets a lot, or he gets nothing -- of late, there is seemingly no middle ground.

And Sunday certainly fit the latter.

The one-run effort marked the third time in Harrell's last six starts that Houston had been held to fewer than two runs. In the three other starts -- all wins -- the Astros plated 22.

"It's just one of those things where the hitters are going to be like pitchers -- one day you have a good game, one day you have a bad one," Harrell said. "You've just got to hang in there and battle every time out."

Harrell said he was at fault for Houston's 7-0 loss to St. Louis his last time out -- hardly the case on Sunday. With his regular catcher Chris Snyder back behind the plate -- Jason Castro filled in against the Cardinals -- Harrell rebounded with a gem. The only thing missing was the help.

"No matter what the score is, if I go out there and I pitch my game and keep us close, we'll have a chance to win," Harrell said. "I was hoping we could scratch a couple of runs there at the end and get a win, but it didn't happen to work out."

Overall, both the Mets and Astros got formidable outings from all three of their respective starters, and two stammering offenses did everything to help them. Houston plated just five runs over the three-game set. New York plated six.

"It's going to take some time for our young hitters to make adjustments to pitchers at this level," said DeFrancesco, who managed a majority of Houston's current roster with the team's Triple-A affiliate. "The movement on a fastball and the consistent change in speed is something a lot of these guys didn't see in the Minor Leagues."

Adam Rosenbloom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.