HOUSTON (AP) – Ramon Castro’s bloop single in the eighth inning gave the New York Mets their first lead in three games, then they piled on four more runs in the ninth for a 9-4 victory over Houston on Sunday that ended the Astros’ seven-game winning streak.

The Astros lost for just the second time in 15 games. They went 22-7 in July, riding that to the top of the NL wild card standings.

New York finished with just two wins on a seven-game road trip. Houston’s pitching was so good this four-game series that the Mets hadn’t led since the seventh inning Thursday night and had scored only four runs over the first three games. Perhaps taking out their frustrations, the Mets had 17 hits, tying the most off the Astros this season.

Cliff Floyd tied it in the seventh with an RBI single, then Castro drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth off Dan Wheeler (1-3). His inside-out swing sent the ball softly into shallow right field, easily scoring Mike Cameron from third.

New York broke it open in the ninth, getting its first four men on before making an out. David Wright, Mike Cameron and Castro had RBI singles, and Marlon Anderson capped it with a sacrifice fly RBI.

Cameron, Carlos Beltran and Doug Mientkiewicz each had three hits. Castro, Wright and Floyd each had two.

Houston’s Eric Bruntlett did his best to give Roy Oswalt his 15th win, homering in the first inning and driving in two more runs with singles. Oswalt left with a 4-3 lead despite being shaky over his six innings.

There were no sparks in the first meeting between Oswalt and Floyd since a June beaning that emptied both benches and bullpens. But it was a good pitcher-hitter battle.

Floyd missed a three-run homer by inches on the first pitch he saw from Oswalt, then ended up lining into an inning-ending double play. Leading off the fourth, he hit his 24th homer for New York’s first run.

Aaron Heilman (4-3) pitched one scoreless inning for the victory. Roberto Hernandez protected it in the eighth and closer Braden Looper pitched the ninth, even though the big rally in the top of the inning prevented it from being a save situation.

The game drew 43,028 fans, upping the total for the four-game series to 172,835, the most ever for the Astros. The majority continued to boo Beltran every time he hit or the ball was hit to him in center field.

Oswalt allowed three runs on nine hits over six innings. It was the most runs he’d given up at home since opening day, when St. Louis scored six off him. This also was the first time in his 23 starts that he didn’t get a decision.

New York starter Kaz Ishii allowed three runs on five hits over four innings. He walked three and two of them scored. He struck out two.

Mets bench coach Sandy Alomar was ejected from the dugout in the first inning following a strange sequence that began with Houston’s Morgan Ensberg thinking he’d walked but it was only ball three. Time was called for him to go back to the batter’s box, but Lance Berkman was trotting from first to second. New York tagged him in a rundown, but he was allowed to stay at first.

Mets manager Willie Randolph complained for several minutes, then went back to the bench. Within seconds, third-base umpire Rob Drake turned toward the dugout and tossed Alomar.

Notes: Houston’s 22 wins was their most in July and their .759 winning percentage also was tops for the month. … Sunday was Family Day for the Astros, with players’ wives and children on the field prior to the game. It was awkward timing considering the happy scene was only hours before the trade deadline.

AP-ES-07-31-05 1736EDT


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