After the performance Hisanori Takahashi delivered for his first career save, he may have won the job.Carlos Beltran homered and the Mets took the lead in the ninth inning on a wild pitch by Houston closer Matt Lindstrom in a 3-1 win over the Astros.
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Takahashi worked a perfect ninth, filling in as closer on the day the Mets learned K-Rod will miss the rest of the year. The four-time All-Star needs season-ending surgery on a torn thumb ligament in his pitching hand sustained during a fight with his girlfriend's father at Citi Field last week.Mets manager Jerry Manuel said before the game that he might use several relievers to fill the role, but after the game he said he'd probably leave Takahashi in the position."Sure. Oh yeah. I think he can get it done for us," Manuel said. "I think the key becomes resiliency. If we happen to get on a run, how many days can he go back-to-back? I think that would be the real key."Takahashi, who has made 12 starts this year, said spending a season as a closer in Japan wasn't anything like Monday's experience."I thought it was kind of a brand new thing," the 35-year-old rookie said through a translator. "Even though I did it for a year in Japan, it's a whole different world."Pitching for the first time since Tuesday because of a sore back, Lindstrom (2-4) allowed a single to David Wright with one out in the ninth before a single to right by Beltran put runners at the corners.With Jeff Francoeur batting, Lindstrom's pitch in the dirt got away from rookie catcher Jason Castro, allowing Wright to score and giving the Mets a 2-1 lead.Francoeur added an insurance run with an RBI triple off the left-center fence."I made a couple of mistakes," Lindstrom said. "I just missed some of my pitches. I thought I felt good. My back wasn't an issue tonight. It's just unfortunate our guys battled all game and I come in there and give up some hits and runs and that was the deciding factor. It's frustrating."Beltran was booed before and after his first-pitch solo homer to the Crawford Boxes in left field that made it 1-0 in the fourth inning. That wasn't the only time he was booed, with the hometown fans voicing their displeasure with him each time he came to bat, six years after he left the Astros to join the Mets."[The] first year I was offended, but now I have to laugh," Beltran said. "People are saying crazy things out there, but ... that's part of the past. I have to move forward, so I have to turn the page and you have to turn the page also."It was Beltran's second homer since returning to the lineup July 15 after missing the first half of the season following knee surgery.Chris Johnson tied it at 1 in the sixth with his two-out, run-scoring double to right-center.Carlos Lee doubled with one out in the eighth. The Mets intentionally walked Johnson, the hot-hitting rookie, with two outs before Elmer Dessens was replaced by Pedro Feliciano (3-6).Feliciano fielded a grounder hit by Brett Wallace, but got an error when he dropped it, allowing Wallace to reach first. The Mets escaped that jam when Castro flied out.Feliciano said the entire bullpen has to step up to make up for the loss of Rodriguez."It's a big hole," Feliciano said. "He's the best pitcher we have in the bullpen and the best closer in the league. Having him down now we have to pull for each other more. I know that we have been a little bit weak late in the game, eighth, seventh. But now we have to come together like today."Wright singled before Beltran walked with no outs in the seventh, but Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez retired the next three Mets to get out of the inning.Rodriguez yielded four hits and one run with six strikeouts in seven innings."I didn't feel 100 percent," he said. "I missed a lot of my breaking balls today."Mets starter Jonathon Niese didn't get a decision for the third straight start despite allowing one run in seven innings. He also allowed just one run in seven innings in each of his last two starts.
Houston 2B Jeff Keppinger left with a sprained left big toe. He'll have X-rays Tuesday. ... Astros SS Tommy Manzella, on the disabled list since June 24 with a broken left index finger, is hitting .364 in nine games in his rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Round Rock. ... The Astros signed third-round draft pick Austin Wates, an outfielder from Virginia Tech. ... Wright raised his average to .292 with three hits. He had dropped from .314 at the All-Star break to .287 with a 21-for-103 (.204) slide.
22,688 (53.9% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
Home Plate - Dan Bellino, First Base - Rob Drake, Second Base - Joe West, Third Base - Angel Hernandez
Jonathon Niese has made three straight starts in which he has allowed one run over seven innings in each. He has three no-decisions.
Only two pitchers in Mets history have had a streak like that┐three straight starts of seven-or-more-innings, allowing zero/one runs.
They are Mike Birkbeck in 1995 and Al Leiter in 2001.