Astros beat the Mets

March 24, 2009 6:03:23 PM PDT
LaTroy Hawkins picked up where he left off with the Houston Astros. The middle reliever returned from the World Baseball Classic to pitch a scoreless inning Tuesday and start a double play in Houston's 8-0 win over the New York Mets. New catcher Ivan Rodriguez homered for the Astros in their fifth straight victory.

Hawkins was 2-0 with a 0.43 ERA in 21 innings over Houston's final 24 games last season.

"I thought he threw the ball well today," manager Cecil Cooper said. "He looked nice and crisp to me."

Cooper expected Hawkins, along with starting pitcher Roy Oswalt, to get some work in beginning Friday, with Hawkins throwing light bullpen sessions until then. But the 6-foot-5 right-hander arrived in Kissimmee ready to pitch, so Cooper put him in.

Though he had good results, Hawkins said he felt "terrible" on the mound.

"I couldn't throw the ball over the plate and I threw a lot of pitches," he said. "But I need that rhythm from last season when it counts."

Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez pitched four scoreless innings against a New York team that was without several key players including David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes. The lefty appears to have recovered from last week's left index finger injury - he allowed two hits and walked two with a pair of strikeouts.

"I controlled my curveballs," Rodriguez said. "I felt the finger, but not bad. I need to work more because today I missed my location a little bit."

Mets starter Mike Pelfrey gave up six runs and 10 hits in 4 2-3 innings, after allowing just one run in his previous 10 innings.

"Pelfrey is a guy that usually has a little bit better command and control," manager Jerry Manuel said. "He's probably going through a period here where it's a little bit of a struggle, but he'll be OK."

Pelfrey said he's almost 100 percent recovered from a shin injury.

"It's almost to the point where it's completely gone," Pelfrey said. "I was debating whether or not to even wrap it today."

Rodriguez hit his first home run for Houston, driving Pelfrey's pitch to left in the fifth inning. He finished 2-for-3 and Geoff Blum went 3-for-4, including a three-run double in a six-run fifth.

Carlos Lee added a pair of RBIs for the Astros.

Notes: New York RHP Freddy Garcia accepted a minor league assignment. Garcia has given up 13 runs in seven innings this spring. ... Astros RHP Brian Moehler, who left Sunday's game with a bruised right shoulder after being hit by a line drive, is expected to start Sunday. ... Oswalt is set to start on Friday. ... Mets OF Ryan Church did not travel with the team after getting a tooth pulled. ... New York C Brian Schneider, Beltran and 1B Carlos Delgado are all expected to return for Wednesday's game. ... Mets relievers J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez, two WBC participants, will pitch in a minor league game Wednesday. ... Manuel said he expects to have all his top players back by Friday, including Wright. "I think the WBC helped me out tremendously," Wright said at Mets camp in Port St. Lucie. "A lot of big pressure situations, playing nine (innings), you're more mentally tired than physically. Physically I feel pretty good. It's good to get back, see the guys and get that chemistry back that's important to being a successful team - and also get into a routine where you get a few at-bats before opening day."