NEW YORK — Houston pitchers were on cruise control all game, barely breaking a sweat against an anemic Mets lineup.
That smooth ride ended rather abruptly, however, on a line drive that barely stayed fair.
Lucas Duda hit a two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday night, rallying New York over the Astros 2-1.
Held to two hits by four Houston pitchers through eight innings, the Mets came back against Tony Sipp (4-3).
Eric Young Jr. tripled with one out and stayed there on Daniel Murphy's flyout to shallow left field.
Duda followed with a line drive off the right-field foul screen for his 29th home run, and the first game-ending homer of his career.
"I tried to pray it foul but he hit it so hard," Sipp said. "It got out pretty quick so I didn't have time to really tell either way. He put a good swing on a bad pitch. You just tip your hat to him."
Jenrry Mejia (6-6) pitched one inning for the win.
Altuve is vying to become the first player in Astros history to win a batting crown.
"I believe he'll play tomorrow," interim manager Tom Lawless said. "We'll see what happens. It should be fun."
On the eve of the regular season's final day, two clubs with losing records and an eye on the future matched zeros for the first five innings in front of an announced crowd of 34,886 — many presumably for a postgame concert by 18-year-old Austin Mahone.
Houston scored in the sixth. Dexter Fowler hit a slow roller that straddled the third-base line and Murphy advanced on the grounder, wishing it foul by waving his glove over the ball. He eventually scooped it up in fair territory, just short of the bag, for a single.
Astros starter Samuel Deduno gave up one hit in four innings, striking out four and walking one. It was his first start since June 14 with Minnesota at Detroit.
"I felt pretty good," Deduno said. "I was throwing my fastball, my slider, my curveball, my changeup. Everything was working good today."
Deduno had made four relief appearances for Houston since being claimed off waivers on Aug. 30.
Deduno also got his first big league hit, a hard-hit double to deep center in the third that caused his teammates on the Houston bench to erupt in cheers and fist-pumping.
Owners of the worst ERA in the American League, the Houston bullpen proceeded to stifle New York's lineup until the ninth. Relievers Jake Buchanan, Kevin Chapman and Jose Veras combined for four innings of one-hit ball.
Montero, starting in place of fellow rookie Jacob deGrom, escaped trouble several times in the early innings.
Astros: Deduno was limited to 65 pitches because he "hasn't been out there in a long time," according to Lawless.
Astros rookie starter RHP Nick Tropeano (1-2, 3.78), hails from West Islip, less than an hour drive from Citi Field, and pitched at nearby Stony Brook University. The 24-year-old is expecting a large cheering section comprised of family and friends on Sunday afternoon, saying that the total number of well-wishers may top 100. Tropeano, who grew up a Yankees fan but attended several Mets games at Shea Stadium, has dropped two straight decisions after winning his major league debut on September 10 in Seattle.
LEADER OF THE PACK
Lawless interviewed for the Astros managerial position on Saturday afternoon at Citi Field for a little over an hour, saying that he felt good about the meeting. He believes that the Houston management would like to make a decision soon.
"Maybe sometime next week," Lawless said. "They want to get it done quickly, I think, so they can start planning."
When asked if he had anything special planned for Altuve if he were to win the batting title on Sunday, Lawless smiled coyly.
"Maybe," he said. "That's all that I can say. I don't want to spill the beans yet."
All content copyright ©2014 Daily Journal, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.