WHAT IT MEANS: Jon Niese was pulled by Terry Collins after three innings as the southpaw matched the fourth-shortest outing of his career, and the Mets ultimately lost to the Houston Astros, 6-3, Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.
New York Mets
Niese surrendered a two-run homer to Jed Lowrie and three-run homer to Chris Snyder before being pulled with his pitch count at 60 in the top of the fourth. Pinch hitter Lucas Duda then struck out against southpaw J.A. Happ to strand two runners. With Mike Nickeas back at the team hotel with the flu, and with Scott Hairston and Justin Turner in the starting lineup, Collins only had lefty pinch hitters available on his bench.
Houston had lost six straight series before the Mets' arrival, but the Astros have now won the first two games of this three-game series.
After falling behind early, 5-0, the Mets did rally against Happ. Before Duda's strikeout, Andres Torres and Josh Thole had delivered consecutive RBI singles with two out in the fourth. An inning later, Hairston's two-out RBI single pulled the Mets within 5-3.
Miguel Batista and Ramon Ramirez combined to walk six in four relief innings, the final of which -- by Ramirez -- forced in a run charged to Batista in the sixth inning that gave Houston a three-run lead.
WHAT'S NEXT: Chris Schwinden looks to bounce back after being charged with six runs (five earned) in four innings in his first start in Mike Pelfrey's vacated rotation spot. Schwinden opposes Astros left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (2-2, 1.72 ERA) as the Mets look to avoid the sweep. Houston last swept a three-game series from the Mets in 2008 at Minute Maid Park.