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Mets 6, Astros 1

August 9, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ Brian McRae’s day began in Chicago with a phone call interrupting his sleep.

It ended at night in New York with an impressive debut for his new team.

McRae, traded Friday morning in a six-player deal between the Mets and Cubs, had three hits and scored twice as the Mets extended Houston’s losing streak to a season-high five games with a 6-1 victory.

``I’m glad I made the trip and didn’t wait until tomorrow,″ said McRae, who was acquired along with relievers Mel Rojas and Turk Wendell. ``I was excited about coming here and this was the most fun I’ve had in baseball in a long time. It certainly was a good beginning.″

The Mets sent leadoff hitter Lance Johnson and two players to be named _ reportedly Mark Clark and Manny Alexander _ to the Cubs in a trade that was blasted all afternoon on the local sports radio station.

Some of that angst might have carried into the evening as McRae was booed by the fickle New York fans when he was picked off after drawing a leadoff walk in the first.

He redeemed himself with a triple and two singles to help send Houston to its fifth straight loss.

``I was sound asleep when the phone rang and a friend heard that the Cubs were going to make a deal with New York. I didn’t think I would be involved, especially since the trading deadline was over. I finally got the news when I arrived at Wrigley Field.″

McRae packed his bags, said his goodbyes and hopped a plane, arriving in New York 90 minutes before game time.

``There was nothing else for me to do in Chicago and the Mets are in a pennant race, so I figured I might as well come and try and help,″ McRae said.

``Frankly, I was happy not to screw things up. I’ve been struggling and if I don’t get here, I don’t get the three hits. I need every one I can get.″

Carlos Baerga, John Olerud and Edgardo Alfonzo had two hits apiece for New York, which had its major league-leading 36th comeback victory of the year.

Brian Bohanon (3-1) pitched 7 2-3 innings, allowing one run on three hits with six strikeouts and three walks.

Shane Reynolds (6-7) lasted 3 2-3 innings allowed six runs _ two earned _ on 10 hits and two walks.

After James Mouton’s homer in the first made it 1-0, New York tied it in the second. Alfonzo hit a one-out single and scored on Alex Ochoa’s two-out double.

McRae hit a one-out triple in the third and scored on Baerga’s single to give the Mets a 2-1 lead.

Singles by Alfonzo and Butch Huskey and a walk to Ochoa loaded the bases with none out in the fourth. Rey Ordonez then struck out, but the ball got away from Houston catcher Brad Ausmus and Alfonzo scored as Reynolds dropped the throw home.

Huskey moved to third and Ochoa to second before Bohanon hit a sacrifice fly and Reynolds committed a balk that allowed Ochoa to score. McRae singled and later scored on Olerud’s single to make it 6-1.

McRae wasn’t sure if the change in scenery will bring about a resurgence at the plate, but he did offer: ``I can’t figure out why I’m batting .240. When I was swinging bad, you don’t expect to get hits, but when I was swinging good, I still wasn’t getting them.

``You need a little luck and tonight I had some. I got a bloop single and the triple was catchable, but I’ll take it... anything to get rolling.″

Notes: Jeff Bagwell stranded four runners and failed to get the ball out of the infield in four at-bats. ... Baerga is 6-for-8 with a double, a home run, three runs scored and five RBI in the two games since returning from a pulled rib cage muscle on Thursday. ... The Mets tied a season-high by going 16 games over .500 (65-49). On July 25 they were 59-43. ... Following the game, New York relief pitcher Ricardo Jordan, who was called up Thursday, was optioned back to Norfolk. ... The Astros have hit one or more home runs in 16 of the last 20 games as a result Mouton’s first inning HR.

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