Wolf leads shutout of Mets
Wigginton's homer in second paces offense as Astros sweep
HOUSTON -- Randy Wolf's second start for the Astros looked much stronger than his first, as Houston swept the Mets, 4-0, on Sunday.
Though the left-hander lasted only five innings, he shut New York down, allowing six hits while striking out seven. Wolf got into a snag late, loading the bases in the fourth and fifth frames. But he struck out Nick Evans and Robinson Cancel to end the fourth and forced Fernando Tatis to fly out to end the fifth inning.
"I thought he threw the ball pretty well early -- down in the zone," said Astros manager Cecil Cooper. "The fourth and fifth kind of took a lot out of him. He got the ball up in the strike zone and still made some good pitches to get out of that fourth and fifth inning. They got the pitch count up pretty high, so we decided to go to the 'pen."
Wolf, who combined for 50 pitches those two innings, has faced the Mets many times in the past as a pitcher for the Phillies, and he knew what pitches the batters were looking to hit.
"I lost about 8 years of my life," Wolf said of his last two frames. "Those are some big situations, and obviously that team can hit, so you don't want to make a mistake. I might have been too fine, that's why I made so many pitches. But you've got to be tough with those guys."
Chris Sampson pitched the next two innings, allowing one hit and striking out one. Wesley Wright and Doug Brocail followed in the eighth inning, stranding one on two hits, and Jose Valverde closed out the game.
"The bullpen has actually stepped up and done their part," Sampson said. "I'm just glad I can contribute any way I can. I'm a ground-ball pitcher. I can come in situations where we need a ground-ball double play, and I've done that. I've played a lot of roles. The guys that we have, the veteran guys are helping out the younger guys and picking each other up."
Cooper said he used Valverde in the non-save situation because he did not want to take any chances.
|"I just know it feels good."|
-- Ty Wigginton|
on the Astros'
recent strong play
Ty Wigginton hit a home run to lead off the second inning, and with two outs in the fourth inning, he doubled to left field and scored on a double down the third-base line by Hunter Pence.
Pence scored on a Darin Erstad single to left -- it fell just in front of Mets outfielder Nick Evans -- and came around to score on a double to the left-field corner by Humberto Quintero.
"My plan today was actually to play [Mark] Loretta if he had been physically able, but I do like the matchup with Ty," Cooper said. "He usually jumps on a guy that has a pretty good fastball, and today he put a good swing on a pretty good [slider] for a home run. The next time I think he hit a fastball for a base hit. Ty's been swinging the bat real well for us."
The Astros' only offensive blemish was that three runners were caught on odd plays.
Pence singled to left in the second inning, but was tagged out trying to stretch the hit into a double, losing sight of the ball as he rounded first. Carlos Lee was tagged out trying to stretch another single to left field, and Erstad was called out at third after a throwing error to first by Mets reliever Eddie Kunz.
"As Erstad rounded second, he actually ran into the infielder, but the umpires all missed it," Cooper said. "Those things happen sometimes. It's better that they happen when you're up, rather than trying to chase a club. We had some big base hits there in the fourth, and they all came on two outs. That's what we needed."
The Astros swept a series for the first time since May 9-11, against the Dodgers, and they have won six of their past eight games and five of their past six series. The sweep is their first over the Mets since Sept. 6-8, 1993, at the Astrodome.
"I just know it feels good," Wigginton said. "The key to this series was our pitching. Our bullpen was absolutely fantastic and the starters were just as good -- they matched theirs."
Krysten Oliphant is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.