No matter who plays, who rests or how he structures his lineup, manager Terry Collins can't get the New York Mets going at the plate.
Jordan Lyles won for the first time in two months and the Houston Astros snapped a seven-game losing streak Friday night with a 3-1 victory over the sluggish Mets, giving Tony DeFrancesco his first win as a major league manager.
David Wright hit his 200th homer for the Mets, who have lost six straight and nine of 11. Despite facing the NL's two worst pitching staffs over the past five days, they have gone seven games without scoring more than two runs for the first time since September 1982, according to STATS LLC.
"It's a humbling experience and what you've got to do is fight through it," Collins said. "We had the guys in there we felt was the team to get it done tonight and it doesn't seem like it's the right lineup any night."
Even new uniform tops on Merengue Night didn't help. New York wore special blue jerseys that read "Los Mets" but again played as if the first word should have ended with a 't.'
Jonathon Niese (10-7) went seven innings but the Mets are 0 for 14 with runners in scoring position over their last two games, leaving them 25 for 151 (.166) in those situations this month.
"We've got to give our pitchers a little more room for error," Wright said.
Tyler Greene homered and Lyles knocked in a run with his first career double as the Astros (40-86) improved to 4-0 against the Mets this season. Houston, with the worst record in the majors, won for only the eighth time in its last 51 games.
It was the perfect homecoming for DeFrancesco, who spent his early childhood in the Bronx before moving to Rockland County just north of New York City and playing catcher at nearby Seton Hall. He said he expected about 40 family members and friends in the stands, including his parents, for each game of the weekend series.
After a postgame champagne shower, DeFrancesco's dark hair was slicked back when he welcomed his father into the visiting manager's office at Citi Field.
"Congratulations, kiddo. Only 999 more to go!" Anthony DeFrancesco replied as he rolled through the doorway in a wheelchair.
Mom wasn't far behind.
"Where's my son?" she said — and 15 minutes later there were about 25 giddy folks squeezed into the room sharing kisses, sipping beers and snapping photos.
What the heck, right? Surely it wasn't the first time a big, boisterous Italian family from the Bronx threw themselves a party in someone else's house.
"I'm sure my phone has got a few text messages," said a smiling DeFrancesco, who gave his team a motivational speech before the game. "I'm going to remember every one of those guys."
It was the opener of a three-game series between teams with the two worst records in the National League since the All-Star break, and this will mark their final meeting as NL foes before Houston moves to the AL West next year.
Both born as expansion franchises 50 years ago, the Astros and Mets share some notable baseball history in Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan and a classic NLCS in 1986 that New York won en route to its most recent championship.
Despite their ugly record, the inexperienced Astros have dominated the head-to-head matchups this year, including a three-game sweep at home from April 30 to May 2 before Houston traded nearly all its established veterans during the summer.
The youngest starting pitcher in the majors, Lyles (3-10) kept the ball on the ground and gave up three hits over six innings. The 21-year-old right-hander was 0-6 in his previous nine starts since beating San Diego on June 26.
Drafted 38th overall in 2008, he improved to 5-18 in two big league seasons. Three relievers finished, with Wilton Lopez getting four outs for his second save.
The Astros had dropped all four games since DeFrancesco took over as interim manager Sunday after Brad Mills was fired, getting outscored 32-8. But they broke through early against Niese, who allowed three runs and six hits.
Chris Snyder drew a two-out walk in the second and scored on a double by Brandon Barnes. Lyles, who entered as a .115 major league hitter, then pulled a double into the left-field corner for his third career RBI, all this season.
Wright cut it to 2-1 in the fourth with his 17th homer of the season and first since July 27 at Arizona, an opposite-field shot that curled just over the wall and inside the right-field foul pole. Umpires upheld the home run call after a replay review that took 2 minutes, 19 seconds.
"I'm proud that I've been as consistent as I'd like to think that I've been," Wright said. "I never thought I'd hit 200 home runs in the big leagues."
Greene connected leading off the seventh for his third homer with Houston since he was acquired this month from the Cardinals.
Wright singled off the fence in right in the sixth but was cut down trying for a double on a strong throw by Steve Pearce. New York fell to 11-29 since the All-Star break, which includes a 2-15 record at Citi Field.
NOTES: Houston will bring up LHP Fernando Abad from Triple-A Oklahoma City to start Saturday against R.A. Dickey (15-4, 2.82 ERA). ... Collins rested slumping 2B Daniel Murphy and said he plans to do so again Saturday.