Ike Davis hit his second homer of the day with one out in the ninth inning soon after returning left fielder Lucas Duda cut a runner down at the plate, lifting the New York Mets to their first series win at home since early July, 2-1 over the Houston Astros on Sunday.
Rookies Jeremy Hefner and Lucas Harrell engaged in a crisp duel for seven innings. Hefner took a shutout into the ninth before giving up a tying double to Marwin Gonzalez.
Gonzalez then tried to score on Ben Francisco's single off Bobby Parnell (3-3) and Duda, recalled from Triple-A Buffalo on Sunday, made a strong throw home.
Catcher Kelly Shoppach took Duda's slightly high throw and stuck his left leg out to block the plate. Gonzalez tried to slide around him and reach back for the plate, but was tagged out.
Davis' drive off Wilton Lopez (5-2) just cleared the top of the right-field wall — and the glove of a leaping Francisco — for the second game-winning hit of his career.
Davis connected off Harrell leading off the fourth, launching a shot about halfway up the second deck in right to help the Mets snap a skid of six straight series losses at Citi Field. Since taking two of three from Philadelphia July 3-5, New York has gone 5-16 at home.
The Mets won two of three against the Astros, winning the finale in 2 hours, 19 minutes.
Duda was recalled to help give provide some power for a club that has scored more than two runs just once in the past eight games.
At Buffalo, Duda worked on playing in left field after starting all his games in the outfield in right for New York. A sub-par outfielder, he couldn't come up with a difficult catch in the ninth that allowed Houston to tie it 1-all, spoiling Hefner's fine outing.
Pinch-hitter Jose Altuve led off the ninth with a single and Mets manager Terry Collins chose to leave Hefner in. Gonzalez then hit a low liner down the left-field line. Duda made the long run and the ball hit of his glove as he tried to make the catch and avoid hitting the wall.
Altuve scored and Gonzalez landed on second base chasing Hefner.
Hefner made seven career starts coming in and had little success, going 2-4 with a 5.63 ERA. He was again added to the Mets rotation a week ago when they expanded to a six-man staff. In his first outing, he gave up five runs over five innings in a loss at Washington.
This time he was dominant against a team with a league-low .238 average. Hefner allowed a two-out single in the first then retired 12 in a row before walking Chris Snyder in the fifth inning. He followed up the walk with a strikeout. After Gonzalez laced a two-out double just inside first base in the sixth inning, Hefner struck out No. 3 batter Brett Wallace.
Hefner received a nice ovation from the 25,071 when he batted in the eighth inning with Shoppach on first base. Hefner sacrificed him to second and returned to the dugout to another round of applause.
Harrell came in the leader in innings pitched for rookies and had won 25 percent of the Astros' 40 games. He was second to Wade Miley in wins for rookies in the NL and led the league with 151 1-3 innings pitched.
He showed how good he was Sunday, giving up two hits and a run with four of his seven strikeouts coming with the batter caught looking.
NOTES: The Mets optioned OF Jordany Valdespin to Buffalo. Valdespin has five pinch-hit homers, most in a season by a Mets player. ... RHP Armando Galarraga has chosen to become a free agent rather than accepting an assignment to the minors after being designated for assignment by the Astros last week. ... Astros OF Justin Maxwell missed his fifth consecutive start with a bruised right index finger. He will see a doctor Monday and could be headed to the disabled list.
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