NEW YORK (AP) - Astros manager Tony DeFrancesco was pretty proud of Fernando Abad after the converted reliever gave up a run over four innings in his first major league start.
Abad, though, would've liked to have had the chance to get a win in front of his family.
The left-hander was lifted for a pinch-hitter an inning after giving up an RBI infield hit to R.A. Dickey in the fourth, and Houston went on to lose to the New York Mets 3-1 Saturday.
``I told you you were going to be pleased with Abad when he came back,' DeFrancesco said. ``For him to go head-to-head today with Dickey, an All-Star and one of the best pitchers in the league is a great achievement for him today.'
Abad made 81 relief appearances over three seasons, going 1-5 with a 4.65 ERA. He pitched in 30 games out of the bullpen this season and had no record before being sent to Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he pitched for the team's then-manager Tony DeFrancesco. Now the Astros' interim manager, DeFrancesco earned his first big league win Friday.
Abad was recalled before the game and had about 10 members of his family, who live in New York City, in the crowd.
``It was a special day, I was hoping to get my team a win and pitch well in front of my family,' Abad said. ``I wanted to pitch more than four innings for them since they're all here watching.'
But he was lifted for a pinch-hitter with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth. Abad gave up four hits and four walks while striking out two and hitting a batter.
Dickey, on the other hand, wasn't feeling his best and managed to give up a run and five hits over seven innings to help the Mets end a six-game losing streak and beat the Astros for the first time this year, improving to 1-4.
``I did some things that might've gassed me more,' Dickey said. ``I didn't feel great. My legs weren't great.'
Justin Turner hit his first homer of the season and Jason Bay snapped a 0-for-14 slump with an RBI single in the eighth to end a stretch of offensive futility for the Mets. New York went seven straight games without scoring more than two runs for the first time since September 1982.
Dickey (16-4) again showed why he has been one of the top pitchers in baseball this season, giving up just five singles in tying the NL's Gio Gonzalez and Johnny Cueto and the AL's Jered Weaver and David Price for the major league lead for wins.
``I've faced him before, honestly today he didn't have his good one and he still did a good job,' Astros third baseman Scott Moore said.
The 37-year-old knuckleballer's little chopper about 40 feet up the first base line in the fourth inning gave the Mets their first hit with runners in scoring position this series. They were 0 for 4 in a 3-1 loss to the hapless Astros on Friday night and had been 0 for 5 against Abad (0-1).
Dickey beat out the play when Abad bounded off the mound and picked up the ball just as catcher Jason Castro barreled into him, the pair tumbling to the turf while the lefty flipped the ball to first base. The desperation toss arrived too late and the Mets had the lead. The RBI was Dickey's third this season and 10th of his career.
``I thought I needed to try and get it, it was not a good decision for me,' Abad said.
Dickey didn't get much of a breather after the sprint up the line as Andres Torres struck out to end the inning. The first-time All-Star then gave up consecutive one-out hits in the fifth to Castro, Brandon Barnes and Brian Bogusevic. But pinch-hitter Steve Pearce grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to preserve the lead.
Turner's homer leading off the sixth against reliever Mickey Storey just squeaked over the old homer wall in the left-field corner for a 2-0 lead.
Dickey started off the seventh by hitting Moore with a pitch and Tyler Greene followed with a single to put runners on first and third. Ronny Cedeno made a leaping catch at second base for the first out then Moore scored on a wild pitch. After a walk, Bogusevic ended the rally with a double-play grounder to short.
Manager Terry Collins chose to hit for Dickey in the bottom half after the durable staff leader had thrown just 86 pitches, his fewest in a start since tossing 84 on July 14. Dickey walked one, hit a batter and struck out two.
``I had a pitch count that I should've thrown a complete game,' Dickey said, ``but the way I felt it would've been selfish of me not to be honest.'
Frank Francisco pitched a perfect ninth for his 21st save.
NOTES: The Astros sent reliever Chuckie Fick to Triple-A Oklahoma City. ... A pair of rookies face off Sunday: Houston's Lucas Harrell (10-9) vs. New York's Jeremy Hefner (2-5). ... In the fifth inning, Dickey was called for a balk by plate umpire Chad Fairchild but the call was reversed by crew chief Tom Hallion, who was behind the pitcher at second base. Hallion saw that Dickey had in fact stepped off the rubber before throwing to second.
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