Contest delayed 55 minutes by rain

NEW YORK (AP) -- Brad Ausmus and the Houston Astros trudged
through the slop to a much-needed victory.

Ausmus' RBI single in the 10th inning sent Houston to a 5-4 win
over the New York Mets on a strange and slippery Wednesday night at
Shea Stadium. Morgan Ensberg had three hits and scored twice for
the Astros, who won for only the second time in seven games.

"An ugly win is even prettier when it stops a slide," Houston
manager Phil Garner said.

The teams played through a steady rain until a 55-minute delay
in the sixth. Lightning flashes throughout the early innings drew
gasps from a sparse crowd.

Playing without starting pitcher Tom Glavine, slugger Mike
Piazza (knee) and shortstop Kaz Matsui (back), the injury-depleted
Mets lost for the fourth time in five games.

Piazza was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to
Aug. 7, because of inflammation in his left knee. Left fielder
Cliff Floyd came out two innings after he was hit in the back of
the ribs by Roy Oswalt's fastball. X-rays were negative.

"I was thinking about activating myself," Mets manager Art
Howe said. "We've got to change whatever we're eating or drinking
because this is getting to be a little ridiculous."

Ensberg led off the 10th with an infield single against Braden
Looper (2-3), stole second and went to third on Jose Vizcaino's

With the infield drawn in, Ausmus, who entered at catcher as a
defensive replacement in the eighth, hit a grounder past diving
third baseman David Wright and down the left-field line. Ausmus was
thrown out trying to stretch it into a double, but the damage was

"Off his knuckles," Looper said. "You can't really defend
against that. It was right over the bag. He hit it in the perfect

Brad Lidge (3-5) struck out three in two scoreless innings for
the win. Kirk Bullinger got three outs for his first career save,
retiring pinch-hitter Jason Phillips with a runner on third to end

Oswalt slipped on the slick mound for a balk and matched a
career high with five walks. He even threw a pitch to the backstop
on the fly in the third.

On the next pitch, Danny Garcia's bat slipped out of his hands
and sailed over the Houston dugout into the stands.

"The mound was in pretty bad shape," Oswalt said. "I was
sliding all over the place."

The Astros played the game under protest after a disputed
infield-fly call in the fifth. The game was held up for about 10
minutes while the umpires huddled with each other and both
managers. Oswalt was even allowed to throw some warmup pitches in
the meantime.

"Pretty confusing," Howe said.

The whole bizarre sequence became moot when left fielder Craig
Biggio made a diving catch of Mike Cameron's looping liner to end
the inning.

Coming off a five-hit shutout of Montreal, Oswalt allowed two
runs and two hits through five innings in his 100th career start.
He did not get a decision for the first time in 18 starts. The
right-hander had won four straight outings.

The Astros went ahead 2-0 in the second on Vizcaino's
run-scoring double and Oswalt's two-out RBI single.

Vance Wilson hit a sacrifice fly for the Mets in the second, and
they tied it on Wright's RBI single in the fourth after Oswalt
walked the first two batters.

After the rain delay, Jeff Bagwell's RBI single and Lance
Berkman's sacrifice fly off Ricky Bottalico gave Houston a 4-2 lead
in the seventh.

The Mets tied it again in the bottom half. Pinch-hitter Jose
Reyes slid into second with a leadoff double, then hobbled off the
field for pinch-runner Steve Trachsel. Reyes was scratched from the
lineup just before gametime because of a sore lower left leg.

New York loaded the bases with one out, and Trachsel scored on
Dan Miceli's wild pitch. When catcher Raul Chavez threw wildly past
the plate for an error, Eric Valent scored to tie it.

Vizcaino fielded Chavez's throw on the infield grass just like a
routine grounder to shortstop and made a perfect throw home in time
to get Valent -- but Miceli dropped the ball.

"We just couldn't put it in the glove, the ball was rolling all
over the place," Garner said.

Matt Ginter started in place of Glavine, who lost his two front
teeth in an automobile accident Tuesday while going from LaGuardia
Airport to nearby Shea Stadium in a taxicab. Glavine also got
stitches for a cut lower lip.

Game notes
Houston LHP Andy Pettitte starts Thursday at Shea Stadium,
his first outing in New York since leaving the Yankees as a free
agent last offseason. ... There was a base open when Oswalt plunked
Floyd. He hit a grand slam off Oswalt on May 14. ... Bagwell tied
Billy Williams for 43rd place on the career list with 1,475 RBI.
... The Mets have 21 consecutive stolen bases without being caught,
a club record. ... Due to the weather, Mets fans can exchange
tickets from this game for free tickets to a game against Atlanta
from Sept. 13-16. ... The Astros are 1-6 in extra-inning games. ...
The start also was delayed, for 11 minutes, while the grounds crew
prepared the field after it rained heavily all afternoon.