NEW YORK (AP) - J.A. Happ had no problem with the gusting wind at Citi Field. It was failing to get outs with runners on base that had him peeved.
Happ gave up homers to Mike Nickeas and David Wright, and the Houston Astros lost 9-1 to the New York Mets on Thursday night, failing to complete their first three-game sweep this season.
``In general the one condition you don't want is the wind, but there's no excuse. I felt fine. It didn't affect anything I was doing,' Happ said. ``I just didn't execute with guys on and that's what cost me.'
Happ threw a wild pitch with runners on second and third in the fourth inning and gave up a two-out, two-run double to Wright in the fifth that gave New York a 6-0 lead.
Happ gave up six runs and six hits in 4 2-3 innings. He walked one and struck out five. It was his first outing in four starts that he walked just one. Happ has walked 12 this season but just three in his last 11 2-3 innings.
``Right now it might seem like I'm far away,' Happ said, ``but I'm this close to figuring it out. So it's just a matter of finishing the pitch.'
Nickeas homered with one out in the third off Happ (1-3) for the Mets first hit. Wright homered in the fourth. Both connected on two-strike pitches.
The NL Central's worst team took the first two games of the series against the team with baseball's worst record, but couldn't put anything together against Chris Capuano (2-1).
``He was throwing the ball well and we were trying to work him as much as we could, but we knew it was going to be tough to score some runs against him,' manager Brad Mills said of Capuano. ``We'll look back and look at some things and move on but we're very happy with the series victory.'
The Astros head into Milwaukee having gone 6-5 after a 1-7 start.
Wright ended his career-worst hitless drought at 20 at_bats with a homer and a two-run double as the Mets ended a seven-game home winless skid in Jason Bay's first game this season.
Bay hit a ground-rule double and later raced around the bases on Hunter Pence's rare four-base error in the eighth inning to give the Mets a lift in a sobering season thus far. Bay was out with a strained rib cage since late March and hadn't played since July 25,when he went out with a concussion.
``Obviously having Jason Bay back - to pull these guys together is one of the best things that could happen,' manager Terry Collins said. ``I think his presence in the clubhouse, in the dugout, and on the field is a big factor.'
Collins tried to inspire the Mets with a quick ejection - his first since 1999, when he was manager of the Anaheim Angels.
After Michael Bourn grounded out to start the game, Collins thought Nickeas caught Angels Sanchez's foul tip for strike three. Home plate umpire Doug Eddings allowed Collins plenty of time to state his case before tossing him for his 22nd career ejection.
The Mets had their starting outfield together for the first time since Bay's last game for all of five innings. Center fielder Angel Pagan left after the fifth inning with a pulled muscle in his left side. He said he'll likely miss a few games.
Willie Harris took over in the field in the sixth. He misplayed his first chance, in the seventh.
Harris took his first step in on Brett Wallace's drive to straightaway center and he could never recover to make the catch. Wallace ended up on second with a double, the first leadoff batter for Houston to reach base.
To that point Capuano worked an easy six innings. He gave up an RBI single to Matt Downs in the seventh for the Astros lone run. Capuano gave up six hits in seven innings, his longest outing of the season.
Bay hit a shallow fly to right in the eighth but this time Pence got to the ball. It hit off the right fielder's glove and rolled down the line as Bay sped around the bases for a run. Wright, who walked scored ahead of him.
NOTES: Houston SS Clint Barmes (broken left hand) has been cleared by Dr. Tom Mehlhoff for all baseball activities. Out since March 25, Barmes will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City on Sunday. He is scheduled to get three at_bats on Sunday, four on Monday and four-plus on Tuesday. ... Astros 2B Bill Hall (sprained right ankle) was feeling much better a day after spraining his ankle running into the wall behind first base to catch a foul pop, manager Brad Mills said. Mills still didn't know how many days Hall would need until he returned.
The Associated Press News Service
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