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NYM@HOU: Norris records eight K's over 7 1/3 frames

HOUSTON -- The frustration level registered somewhere between the desire to knock over a trash can and wanting to punch a hole in the wall, which is to be expected after losing a game that, for six innings, seemed to be such a sure thing.

Astros starter Bud Norris was in total control Friday night, baffling the Mets through six innings of two-hit ball and with a four-run cushion to boot. And it was all erased with three mighty swings of the bat by the surging Mets.

A solo homer by Jason Bay in the seventh inning and a pair of two-run homers by Fernando Martinez and David Wright in the eighth enabled the Mets to escape Minute Maid Park with a 6-4 win that had the Astros wallowing in misery.

"I'm not going to lie and say it's not frustrating, because it's really frustrating to not win the game," said Astros third baseman Chris Johnson, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.

Astros right fielder Hunter Pence saw his 15-game hitting streak come to an end with an 0-for-4 performance that included a lineout in the first and a strikeout in the fifth.

Norris took a shutout into the seventh before the Mets began to turn the tide with a long two-out solo homer to left by Bay. Martinez, a pinch-hitter, socked a two-run homer in the eighth to cut the lead to 4-3, and Norris was pulled after walking Jose Reyes with one out.

"I should have gotten out of that inning," Norris said. "I should have made some better pitches. A guy came off the bench and hit a home run. You have to tip your cap to him. It was a heck of swing. Not the best pitch, not the worst pitch, but I had him where I wanted him, and they've got a great-swinging team and can do that. I held them for a long time and am a little frustrated about it, no doubt."

Relief pitcher Jeff Fulchino (0-1) got Josh Thole to fly out to left field before Wright uncorked a swing on a 2-1 pitch and homered down the left-field line to put the Mets ahead, 5-4, and stun the crowd of 28,791. The Mets added a run in the ninth off Wilton Lopez.

"The bottom line is he was throwing the ball extremely well, and with the hitters he had coming up and after throwing a ball so well for the whole ballgame, we wanted to turn it over to some fresh arms," Astros manager Brad Mills said.

The blown save was the Major League-leading 10th for the Astros this season in 15 save chances. They've rallied to win three of those games, but couldn't take advantage of having the tying run at the plate in the ninth.

"We have complete faith in our bullpen," Johnson said. "That's not something I'm too worried about. Guys have their struggles, and I've had my struggles earlier in the year. When our bullpen comes in, I'm still very confident in all those guys out there. It's not something that's getting in our heads at all, I don't think, and we'll just keep fighting."

Norris was terrific for most of his 7 1/3 innings, allowing two walks and five hits -- just two through the first six frames -- while striking out eight batters. He threw 111 pitches, which is five below his season high.

"He was giving us fits," Wright said. "He throws a lot of sliders and fastballs, and he keeps you honest. He's the type of guy you have to get his pitch count up, which we didn't do tonight."

Mills said Norris deserved a better fate.

"We left a lot of guys on [stranded nine] and it was too bad to see a good pitching [performance] that he wasn't going to get anything from," he said. "He was throwing the ball pretty well. He was giving everything he had and still had good zip on his fastball, and his breaking ball was still good."

Carlos Lee's bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the third inning put the Astros ahead, 1-0, but Lee's biggest contribution came in the fourth, when he made a running catch in left field by reaching down to snag a Bay sinking liner, stranding runners at second and third.

"Great play, especially with second and third and two outs," Norris said. "Unbelievable play by Carlos, and I was pretty juiced on that one. To keep zeroes on the board, that's my job, and when guys are playing defense like that, that's huge. I absolutely tip my cap to Carlos."

The Astros scored three times in the sixth to take a 4-0 lead. Lee began the inning with a single, Brett Wallace drew a walk and Johnson ripped a double into left field to score Lee. Bill Hall greeted reliever Rota Igarashi with an RBI single, and Johnson scored on a fielding error by first baseman Daniel Murphy.

Norris had retired nine in a row when Bay unloaded on a 3-1 pitch and sent it high over the railroad tracks in left field.

The flurry of homers by the Mets only magnified the fact that a pair of Astros runners were thrown out at home plate.

Lee was thrown out easily by Bay from left field trying to score on a single in the second Johnson with runners at first and second and no outs, and Hall was tagged out at the plate to end the sixth, when he tried to sneak home on Bourn's grounder to first that turned into a double play.

"If you think he has a chance to score, you want him to score," Mills said. "You have the opportunity and you think he has a chance to score, you definitely want to give him that opportunity." Comments