Final

Series: Game 3 of 3

NY Mets won 2-1

Game 1: Tuesday, August 10
Houston3Final
NY Mets7
Game 2: Wednesday, August 11
Houston5Final
in 10
NY Mets4
Game 3: Thursday, August 12
Houston1Final
NY Mets2

Astros 1

(56-58, 27-27 away)

Mets 2

(54-59, 29-24 home)

    12:10 PM ET, August 12, 2004

    Shea Stadium, Flushing, New York 

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    HOU 000001000 1 2 0
    NYM 01000010 - 2 8 1

    W: V. Zambrano (11-7)

    L: D. Weathers (6-7)

    S: B. Looper (23)

    Former Yankee winless in last three starts

    NEW YORK (AP) -- Andy Pettitte reached back, threw to the plate and knew something was missing: his velocity.

    "I was getting under the radar, under the hitting speed," he said. "Guys were probably a little shocked."

    Pitching across town from the ballpark where he became a star during nine seasons with the Yankees, he allowed just one run in his return to New York but didn't make it out of the sixth inning and failed to get a decision Thursday in the Houston Astros' 2-1 loss to the Mets.

    He's pitching with a small tear in a tendon in his left elbow, an injury sustained while batting in his first start of the season. He's been on the disabled list twice and had to leave his July 26 outing against Arizona because of elbow soreness.

    "Everybody watching realizes I'm not throwing the ball with the velocity I used to," he said. "I'm just trying to figure out a way to get some guys out."

    After leaving the Yankees last December to sign a $31.5 million, three-year contract with his hometown Astros, so much was expected of Pettitte. But the Astros are 56-58, way back in the NL Central and the wild-card race, and the 32-year-old left-hander isn't sure whether the elbow will require surgery.

    "I don't know, I really don't know," he said. "I'll worry about all that stuff in the offseason."

    Hat pulled low and glove held high, Pettitte was back on the mound in the city where he started the Yankees' clinching win in Game 5 of the 2000 World Series. He met some old friends the past few days and was happy to be back in New York.

    "Walking around town and stuff like that, everybody's told me a lot of nice things," he said.

    He was given a mixture of applause and boos when he stepped to the plate in the third inning, but the reception quickly turned to all jeers when didn't run out a weak grounder to shortstop.

    "My fingers and everything kind of just went numb," he said. "That ball of the end of the bat just added to what I'm dealing with out there. It took me a little while to shake it off."

    He got just 28 at-bats during his time with the Yankees because the DH is used in the American League, plus 12 more during World Series games in NL cities. He said hitting was fun during spring training this year, but then came the injury when he tried to check a swing against San Francisco on April 6.

    "It hasn't been fun since I blew my elbow out the first game," he said. "I'm hoping next year it will be all right."

    Winless in three outings since July 21, Pettitte is 6-4 with a 3.90 ERA in just 15 starts. He allowed one run and four hits in 5 2-3 innings against the Mets, walking four, striking out five and throwing just 55 of 95 pitches for strikes.

    "The guy's pitching with, I don't know what the percentage would be, but certainly less than 100 percent of what his arsenal is, and he just pitched a brilliant game," Astros manager Phil Garner said.

    With less than 7½ weeks remaining to catch up, Pettitte knows he probably will have October off.

    "I've always gone to the playoffs every year," he said. "It's definitely a disappointment. We're facing reality here, if we don't start playing."

    David Weathers (6-7), dealt to Houston on June 17 in the deal that brought Richard Hidalgo to New York, relieved with the bases loaded in the sixth and retired pinch-hitter Cliff Floyd. But the Mets went ahead the next inning when Danny Garcia doubled leading off and scored on Joe McEwing's two-out single.

    "I knew he was trying to bury the two-seamer inside with two strikes and get me to chase," McEwing said. "He caught some of the plate with it, so I was able to get a good swing on it."

    Victor Zambrano (2-0) won his second straight start since the Mets acquired him from Tampa Bay on July 30, allowing an unearned run in seven innings. Houston's only hits off him were Jose Vizcaino's infield single off the glove of a diving David Wright at third base in the fifth, and Lance Berkman's tying single in the sixth, a hard drive into right field.

    Mike Stanton and Ricky Bottalico combined on a hitless eighth, and Braden Looper finished the two-hitter for his 23rd save in 26 chances.

    Hidalgo singled in the second and scored on Mike Cameron's double. Berkman's single scored Eric Bruntlett, who reached on Zambrano's throwing error.

    Zambrano improved to 12-1 against NL teams in his career, and 11-7 overall this season. Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson has helped make small changes to his motion.

    "We knew if we could get him throwing strikes, he'd be tough to beat," manager Art Howe said.

    Game notes


    When Brad Ausmus caught Gerald Williams trying to steal second base in the third inning, it ended New York's team-record streak of 21 straight steals dating to July 19 against Florida. ... New York's starting lineup was missing C Mike Piazza (inflamed knee), SS Kaz Matsui (bad back), infielder Jose Reyes (sore left leg) and Floyd (sore ribs). ... Houston kept 1B Jeff Bagwell, LF Craig Biggio and 2B Jeff Kent out of its starting lineup.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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