NEW YORK -- Houston pitcher Roy Oswalt has been around long enough to recognize that baseball isn't always fair.
"Sometimes you pitch great and lose," Oswalt noted Sunday. "And sometimes you pitch terrible and win."
The Astros beat the New York Mets 8-4 Sunday and Oswalt's bat had as much to do with the win as his arm. He contributed a pair of singles to help build Houston rallies and came away with his first victory in over a month.
There had been four losses and three no-decisions since he beat Chicago on June 14 so Sunday's win was a welcome change. "It was a battle," Oswalt said. "I didn't have great stuff. Sometimes you're able to battle and get through it."
It was a day that did not begin well for Oswalt (7-7). He gave up a three-run homer to New York's Carlos Delgado in the first inning. It was a similiar start to Saturday when the Mets Orlando Hernandez gave up three runs to Houston in the first inning in a game New York won 4-3.
"After it's 3-0, you just try to keep your club in the ballgame," Oswalt said. "I was able to get to the sixth."
By then, the Astros had battled back to take the lead. They scored a run in the third when Oswalt contributed a single and four more in the fifth when he led off with another single.
Manager Phil Garner wasn't as tough on Oswalt as the pitcher was on himself.
"I thought Roy threw good," the manager said. "He left one up over the plate to Delgado. The Mets are swinging pretty good right now. They worked deep counts on him."
Oswalt had thrown 106 pitches when he left the game with two out in the sixth. He gave up four runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out four and walked three. Four Houston relievers did not allow a hit and shut out the Mets the rest of the way
"Oswalt did for them what El Duque did for us the other day," Mets third baseman David Wright said. "Once he got out of the first inning, he settled down and started making good pitches."
The victory ended a three-game losing streak for the Astros, who avoided a weekend sweep.
New York was leading 3-1 on Delgado's first-inning home run when Oswalt, who had singled to help build Houston's first run, opened the fifth with a pop fly that fell off second baseman Jose Valentin's glove for another hit. The Astros went on to bat around and score four runs to take the lead.
After Oswalt's hit, Willy Taveras doubled. Mike Lamb then singled up the middle, scoring Oswalt and Taveras to tie the score at 3-3. Then Lance Berkman delivered an RBI double, giving the Astros the lead.
Berkman strained his groin running out the double and was replaced by pinch runner Luke Scott. The hit knocked out Mets starter Mike Pelfrey and Preston Wilson's single against reliever Darren Oliver scored Scott.
"I quit throwing my secondary pitches for strikes," Pelfrey said. "They started sitting on my fastball and started hitting it."
Berkman said he hurt himself when he tried to change speeds getting to second base. "I saw the ball kick around and I thought I could get to third," he said. "I'm not very concerned. It didn't pop or anything. I think it's minor."
The Mets, who had won three straight games, got a run back in the bottom of the fifth. Paul Lo Duca opened with his second double, reached third on a fly by Wright and scored on Cliff Floyd's two-out single.
In the eighth, Adam Everett singled, stole second, went to third on a throwing error by Lo Duca and scored on a hit by Taveras. After Taveras stole second and went to third on an infield out, he scored when Chris Burke beat reliever Aaron Heilman to first on a soft looper for an infield single.
Everett added an RBI single in the ninth to make it 8-4.
The Mets, who came into the game leading the National League in first-inning runs with 79, struck quickly again.
Lo Duca doubled down the right field line with one out and Carlos Beltran walked. Delgado followed with his 25th home run of the season and third in the last four games. The three-run homer gave Delgado 65 runs batted in for the season and eight in the last four games.
The Astros got a run back in the third when Pelfrey (2-1) hit Everett with a pitch with one out. Oswalt, attempting to bunt, fell behind in the count and swung at an 0-2 pitch, singling to right and sending Everett to third. Taveras followed with a sacrifice fly.
Pelfrey gave up five runs and six hits in 4 1/3 innings. He walked one and struck out three.
- Mets bullpen coach Guy Conti underwent an angioplasty to relieve a clogged artery at Lenox Hill Hospital on Saturday. He is expected to rejoin the team on Monday. ... Pelfrey was attempting to become the first Mets pitcher to win his first three starts. Dick Selma (1965) and Gary Gentry (1969) are the only others to win their first two starts.