WHAT IT MEANS: Make it 7,991 games in franchise history without a no-hitter.
Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey departed Denver, bound for Houston, wearing a sheriff’s outfit complete with badge, gun and holster -- part of the Mets western-themed dress-up day. And Dickey was well-armed early against Astros batters on Monday, keeping them hitless into the sixth inning.
But when it unraveled, it unraveled quickly.
New York Mets
The Mets eventually rallied to tie the score in the seventh, but ultimately lost to Houston, 4-3, at Minute Maid Park.
Former Boston Red Sox infielder Jed Lowrie delivered a tiebreaking single in the eighth against Manny Acosta that scored Jordan Schafer with the decisive run. Acosta was working his second inning of relief in his first appearance since participating in that 11-run-inning debacle Friday in Denver.
Despite the defeat, the Mets finished a generally successful April with a 13-10 record, although their bid to move five games over .500 for first time since July 19, 2010 fell short.
As for Dickey’s effort, Schafer led off the bottom of the sixth by serving an opposite-field single over third baseman David Wright for Houston’s first hit. Schafer then scored on a broken-bat, fielder’s choice groundout by Travis Buck. Matt Downs followed by launching a two-run homer as a potentially historic evening turned into a 3-0 deficit for Dickey and the Mets.
Of course, Philip Humber became the seventh pitcher to leave the Mets and then toss a no-hitter elsewhere earlier this season, while the Mets remain without a no-no in franchise history. If the rotation remains in order, Johan Santana is lined up to pitch the 8,000th straight Mets game without a no-hitter on May 11 in Miami.
CAPTAIN KIRK: The Mets, who scored 22 runs in the three-game weekend series at Colorado, were held scoreless into the seventh inning by Astros right-hander Bud Norris.
That’s when newly installed left fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis -- who remained in the leadoff slot with Andres Torres’ return -- delivered a bases-loaded, two-run single with two out that evened the score at 3 and chased Norris.
Lucas Duda, held out of the starting lineup because of illness, had preceded Niewenhuis’ at-bat by pinch-hitting for Dickey and walking to load the bases.
Torres, meanwhile, went 1-for-4 and drove in the Mets’ opening run in the three-run seventh with a run-scoring infield single. It was Torres’ first game back since straining his left calf on Opening Day.
Torres struck out in his first at-bat, then was robbed of a potential extra-base hit in the gap in his second at-bat on a stellar catch by the left fielder Buck. He grounded out to second base to open the ninth inning.
Dickey’s final line: 6 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 77 pitches (55 strikes).
WHAT’S NEXT: The Astros, who have lost six straight series, will look to win two straight against the Mets when they send left-hander J.A. Happ (1-1, 4.70 ERA) to the mound against Jon Niese (2-0, 2.81) Tuesday at 8:05 p.m. ET. Daniel Murphy is scheduled for his first game off this season.