Thursday, August 26, 1999

Mets 4, Astros 0




BY JOSH DUBOW
AP Sports Writer

        NEW YORK — Kenny Rogers won his 17th straight home decision and Robin Ventura hit a go-ahead, two-run single in the sixth inning to carry the New York Mets over the Houston Astros 4-0 Wednesday night.

        Rogers (3-0) allowed seven hits in 8 1-3 innings, struck out five and walked two before Dennis Cook finished for his third save. Rogers left to a standing ovation from a New York crowd that never treated him as well when he pitched for the Yankees in 1996-97.

        “I never expected that,” Rogers said. “It was nice to hear. I'm just going to have to go out and keep pitching well.”

        Rogers' streak dates to June 28, 1997, and is the longest since Frank Viola won 19 straight at Minnesota in 1987-88. Rogers' streak spans three teams — the Yankees, Oakland Athletics and Mets.

        The Mets, who won for the 11th time in 15 games, remained 11/2 games behind Atlanta in the NL East but increased their lead to 31/2 games over Cincinnati in the wild-card race.

        Houston's NL Central lead over the Reds remained at 11/2 games after losing two of three to the Mets.

        “We don't get scared by the schedule or the competition,” manager Bobby Valentine said. “We know we can handle it because we got this far.”

        Rogers, who left his previous start after three innings with a stiff back, had trouble staying loose again. He went into the clubhouse before the fifth inning to get his back worked on by trainers.

        “It was a little stiff but I felt comfortable,” he said. “I had my sinker working all game. I pitched the way I pitch. I kept the ball down, moved it around and let the defense do its work.”

        Each team had only one runner through four innings as Shane Reynolds (14-10) and Rogers were in complete control. Both teams put two runners on in the fifth before the Mets broke through with four runs in the sixth. Rickey Henderson led off with a single, but Reynolds retired the next two batters.

        Mike Piazza then doubled Henderson to third on a first-pitch slider as the Mets put together five straight hits — four on the first pitch. Ventura followed with a line-drive single a 1-1 pitch to make it 2-0 and draw chants of “M-V-P!” from the crowd.

        “With the base open, I didn't know what to expect,” Ventura said. “I looked for a ball to drive and fortunately I got it.”

        Darryl Hamilton hit an RBI single, and Roger Cedeno reached on an infield single, with Hamilton scoring on third baseman Ken Caminiti's throwing error to make it 4-0. Rey Ordonez doubled off the left-field wall before Rogers' inning-ending groundout.

        “We just made a couple of mistakes,” manager Larry Dierker said. “They hit a couple balls hard, got our pitcher on the ropes and found a way to hurt him.”

        Rogers faced little trouble all game, allowing only four runners to reach second base. He got 18 outs on the ground and the Mets didn't record a single outfield putout.

        “This is the worst hitting slump we've had all year,” said Dierker, whose team scored seven runs in the series. “He had us lunging at balls and swinging at bad pitches all night. That's the sign of a good pitcher.”

        Craig Biggio hit his 51st double — tying his own team record, set last year. With four outfielders on the disabled list and Bill Spiers getting treatment on his ailing back, Biggio played left in his first outfield start since July 26, 1990.

        Biggio had no problems in the field and even made a nice running grab of Henderson's line drive in the gap in the fourth.

        “I had a little more action than I would like,” he said.

        NOTES: Rogers has one win at Yankee Stadium, 15 in Oakland and one at Shea Stadium in the streak. ... The Astros are 24-13 against left-handed starters. ... Mets RHP Bobby Jones has bursitits in his right shoulder and will miss his rehab start Saturday. GM Steve Phillips said he was uncertain when Jones will be ready. RHP Rick Reed will make a rehab start Friday at Triple-A Norfolk and should be ready to return after that.

       



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