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Pettitte allows four runs in six innings

5/16/2004

HOUSTON (AP) -- Andy Pettitte put his emotions aside after a
close friend died earlier in the day, and went out and beat the New
York Mets.

"He's a professional, and he showed it tonight," Houston
Astros catcher Brad Ausmus said.

Pettitte won his fourth straight game and drove in a run as the
Astros stopped a three-game losing streak with a 7-4 victory
Saturday night. He left immediately after being taken out of the
game after the sixth inning, and didn't speak with the media.

"I talked to him about it before the game and he said he would
be fine," Ausmus said. "But that's certainly a difficult
situation to pitch under."

Pettitte (4-1) went six innings and allowed four runs on six
hits. He struck out eight, tying his season high set May 4 against
Pittsburgh, and walked one. Pettitte also helped himself with an
RBI single in the fifth inning.

He has won all four starts since coming off the disabled list
April 29. He missed 19 games with a strained left elbow after
losing his first start April 6 against San Francisco.

Craig Biggio, who played under a similar situation when a close
friend of his died at midseason two years ago, understood what
Pettitte was going through Saturday.

"There's no easy way around it," Biggio said. "But I know he
felt that the best thing he could do for his friend was to go out
and do the best job he could pitching tonight. And that's what he
did.

"I know it was riding on him all day long. Everybody just
thinks that as pros we just put the armor-plating on and go out and
nothing bothers you. But we're human too. You lose a good friend,
and it bothers you. Our prayers go out to him and his family."

Adam Everett, who hit a two-run homer, agreed.

"He did really well on the mound considering everything that
was going on in his life," Everett said. "He was out there with a
heavy heart. All of our thoughts and prayers are with him."

The Mets weren't aware of the situation, but were still
impressed by Pettitte.

"Against that caliber of pitcher, you can't give up that many
runs at the start," manager Art Howe said. "We kept at it. But
they didn't let us out of the hole."

Cliff Floyd agreed that Pettitte was still on his game.

"Pettitte is awesome," Floyd said. "He knows how to pitch.
He's a great pitcher and a great competitor. He battled through
some tough innings and stayed poised. That's what good pitchers
do."

But Floyd, who struck out twice, also was unhappy with plate
umpire Angel Hernandez's strike zone.

"You can't allow a guy like Pettitte to have more of the
plate," Floyd said. "We are already at a disadvantage. Both teams
were moaning about it. You just can't give a guy like that extra
pitches.

"When you're thinking about what you're going to call, you're
in trouble. It's not that hard. If it's a strike, call it a strike.
If it's a ball, call it a ball. I was going to go up there swinging
because if he called another ball a strike, I was going to get
thrown out of the game and I didn't want to embarrass myself and my
team."

Jeff Kent was 2-for-4 with two RBI as the Astros ended the
Mets' three-game streak.

Octavio Dotel got three outs for his seventh save in eight
chances.

James Baldwin (0-2) lasted four innings and allowed four runs on
six hits in his second start with the Mets. He walked three and hit
a batter, after giving up six earned runs in two innings and losing
12-8 at Arizona last Monday.

Kent's double drove in Craig Biggio from third in the first
inning for a 1-0 lead. The Astros then loaded the bases and Baldwin
walked Richard Hidalgo to force in a run.

Everett hit a two-run homer in the second, his third of the
season, and gave Houston a 4-0 lead.

Pettitte retired the first 11 batters, before Floyd singled with
two outs in the fourth. Shane Spencer's RBI single to center drove
in Floyd, and Jason Phillips knocked in two more with a double to
make it 4-3.

Pettitte's RBI single in the fifth drove in Morgan Ensberg from
second for a 5-3 lead.

Phillips made it a one-run game again with an RBI double in the
sixth, but Kent made it 6-4 with an RBI single in the sixth.

Ensberg scored on Jason Lane's fielder's choice in the seventh
to make it 7-4.

Game notes
Pettitte's single was his first hit and first RBI of the
season. It also was only the fourth hit and third RBI of his career
in 37 at-bats. ... Phillips' three RBI tied his career high for a
game. The last time he drove in three was at Colorado on Aug. 16,
2003. ... Mets SS Kazuo Matsui's double in the sixth was his sixth
in the last seven games. ... With his appearance Saturday, Mike
Stanton has 907 in his career -- one short of tying Cy Young for
13th on the all-time list for pitchers.