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Beltran saves day, hurts knee, as Mets hold off Astros

HOUSTON (AP) -- After injuring his left knee making an impressive
leaping catch in the ninth inning that likely saved the New York
Mets win, Carlos Beltran couldn't bend it.

But he still had his sense of humor.

Beltran crashed into the left field wall when making a catch on
a long fly by Lance Berkman in the ninth inning that preserved New
York's 4-2 win over the Houston Astros on Saturday night.

Playing against the team that he snubbed in favor of signing
with the Mets in 2004, Beltran was roundly booed each time he
batted or came near the ball.

When asked how Saturday's collision compared to the violent
collision he had with teammate Mike Cameron last season, Beltran
said that one was much worse because he didn't know where he was.

"It's totally different. Today I knew where I was. After I
heard the boos I knew I was in Houston," he said with a chuckle.

Beltran said a former Mets doctor who was visiting team trainers
examined his knee and said there were no torn ligaments, but he was
going to a local hospital for X-rays since he could not bend his
knee.

"He made a great catch, unbelievable catch," Mets manager
Willie Randolph said. "He went all out and sacrificed his body,
that's why he's one of the great players in the game."

Said Astros manager Phil Garner: "Carlos perhaps saved the
game. Two runs probably score if he doesn't make that play, and
it's certainly tied up. I didn't think it was catchable. He came
out of nowhere."

Both of Beltran's knees were marked from crashing into the
chain-link fence and his left knee was scraped and swollen. He was
limping around the clubhouse but said he was not in pain.

After the catch, he made the throw and then went down to the
ground. After being tended to by the trainers for a few minutes,
Beltran walked off gingerly with help.

"My left knee went into it (the fence) and hit the patella
tendon so when I came down that's why I was limping," he said. "I
couldn't put pressure on the knee. So I went down and I couldn't
stretch it out by myself or bend it."

Cliff Floyd had a double and two RBI in his return from the
disabled list to back rookie John Maine's strong pitching before
Beltran's catch.

Floyd, activated from the 15-day DL before the game, had a
sacrifice fly in the fourth and a run-scoring double in the ninth
to help the Mets to their 13th win in the last 15 games. He had
been out since Aug. 9 with an Achilles' tendon injury.

Maine (5-3) pitched 6 1/3 innings and gave up just two hits, but
they were both home runs, and struck out three. Billy Wagner
pitched the ninth for his 34th save in 39 chances.

The Astros, who have the fewest errors in the National League
with 63, were uncharacteristically sloppy against New York.

"We gift wrapped it for them there's no question about it,"
Garner said. "We gave them the game."

In the fourth, Paul Lo Duca scored when a hard-hit grounder by
David Wright rolled right between Craig Biggio's legs and into
center field.

Floyd's sacrifice fly later in the inning made it 2-0. Wright,
who has 106 RBI this season, got caught trying to steal second
base to end the inning.

Houston starter Jason Hirsh, also a rookie, dropped a short toss
when covering first, allowing Beltran to reach in the sixth. Carlos
Delgado followed with a single that sent Beltran to third.

A wild pitch by Hirsh allowed Beltran to score and make it 3-1.

Maine retired the first 12 batters, before Berkman's homer to
left field to lead off the fifth inning. It was Berkman's 37th home
run of the season and his 112th RBI, tying him with Beltran for
second in the National League.

Mike Lamb's home run to the upper deck in right center field in
the seventh made it 3-2. Maine was replaced by Pedro Feliciano
after Beltran caught a long fly by Berkman just in front of the
center field wall.

Saturday was Maine's second meeting with the Astros. He threw a
shutout in New York's 7-0 win over Houston on July 21. He has
allowed three or fewer runs in eight of 11 starts.

The 24-year-old Hirsh (2-3) allowed five hits and three runs in
six innings while striking out four in his fifth major league
start.

Game notes
Lo Duca had a single in the fourth to extend his hitting
streak to 12 games. ... Hirsh was named the Pacific Coast League
pitcher of the year after posting a 12-3 record with a 2.10 ERA for
Triple-A Round Rock. ... Pedro Martinez, on the 15-day disabled
list with a calf strain, threw 38 pitches in a bullpen session
Saturday in Florida.