Lefty Jonathon Niese can make it five straight starts without a loss tonight when the New York Mets visit Minute Maid Park for the second game of a three-game series with the Houston Astros.
An 11-game winner with the Mets last season, Niese began 2012 with consecutive defeats of Atlanta and Philadelphia, in which he allowed seven hits and four runs in 12 2/3 innings of work.
He's subsequently picked up no-decisions in starts against San Francisco and Miami, giving up five runs on 11 hits in 13 innings. The Mets are 3-1 in games he's pitched.
Niese has split a pair of career decisions in three starts against Houston with a 1.80 earned run average in 20 innings.
Another southpaw, Illinois native J.A. Happ, gets the start for Houston.
He's pitched six innings in three of four starts in 2012 and is 1-1 with a pair of no-decisions while allowing 26 hits and 12 runs in 23 innings.
The Astros are 2-2 in games he's pitched.
Happ, who won six times in 28 starts last season, is 2-2 lifetime against New York with a 4.82 ERA across 37 1/3 innings.
He is 26-25 overall as a big-leaguer with a .252 opposition batting average.
On Monday, Jed Lowrie hit a go-ahead RBI single in the eighth inning and the Astros downed the Mets, 4-3.
New York starter R.A. Dickey carried a no-hitter through five innings, but Houston took a 3-0 lead in the sixth on Travis Buck's RBI groundout and Matt Downs' two-run homer.
The Mets tied the game in the seventh against Astros' starter Bud Norris, but Jordan Schafer led off the eighth with a single, stole second and scored on Lowrie's base hit off of Manny Acosta (0-2).
Brett Myers then threw a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his fifth save of the season.