September 26, 2014
New York Mets pitcher Jonathon Niese delivers the ball to the Houston Astros during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 26, 2014, at Citi Field in New York. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Bill Kostroun

NEW YORK (AP) Jonathon Niese's final start of the season ended sooner than expected.

Niese exited in the sixth inning with an elevated heart rate, a condition he's dealt with before, and the Houston Astros rallied Friday night against Mets reliever Carlos Torres for a 3-1 victory over New York.

''I have an idea of what's going on; it's not that scary,'' Niese said. ''I know it's going to go away eventually, but sometimes it just lasts longer than others.''

Niese said he's only experienced the rapid heart rate when pitching. He went through all sorts of tests three years ago and was cleared by doctors, so he doesn't take any special medication.

After the game Friday night, he said he was still deciding whether to have more tests.

''Unless I got a procedure done, there's a chance that it can come back. But it really isn't worth doing anything about because it doesn't happen that regularly,'' he said. ''I think it's just physical stress. ... Adrenaline ... kind of spikes it, and that's kind of one of (those) things where that's the way my heart is built.''

Jose Altuve, closing in on the American League batting title, hit a tying single off Torres in a three-run sixth inning. Chris Carter and Robbie Grossman doubled, and Matt Dominguez capped the outburst with an RBI single.

New York's relay beat Altuve to the plate on Carter's double to deep left-center, but catcher Anthony Recker was charged with an error when he dropped the ball while attempting to apply a tag.

The diminutive Altuve, generously listed at 5-foot-6, is trying to become the first Astros player to win a batting crown. He went 1 for 4 and finished the night at .342, six points ahead of Detroit slugger Victor Martinez.

''It would mean a lot to me,'' Altuve said. ''But five, six points I think is nothing for Victor in two days.''

Altuve said he'll play Saturday and Sunday no matter what.

''I'm going to win it outside on the field, not sitting on the bench,'' he said.

Kevin Chapman (2-0) got two outs, Tony Sipp tossed two perfect innings and the Astros (70-90) snapped a three-game skid by winning for the third time in 10 games. They reached 70 victories for the first time since winning 76 games in 2010.

''Big improvement from last year to this year,'' Altuve said. ''Next year we're going to do even better and I think we can be in the playoffs.''

Chad Qualls worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 19th save.

Curtis Granderson hit his 20th homer for the Mets, already assured their sixth straight losing season since moving into Citi Field. They are 38-41 in their own ballpark, guaranteeing them a losing record at home for the fourth year in a row.

Niese was working on a three-hit shutout when he ducked under a throw to second base by Recker in the sixth. The left-hander bent over to stretch his arms and back after the play, bringing trainer Ray Ramirez and manager Terry Collins out of the dugout.

Following a discussion on the mound, Niese walked off the field.

''I feel great,'' Niese said after the game. ''It went away as soon as Terry and Rey got out there. But until then, it was kind of still racing.''

Torres (8-6) was summoned and given all the time he needed to warm up.

It didn't help.

Niese left an outing at Texas in June 2011 when he struggled to catch his breath and another about a year later due to a rapid heartbeat. He had a battery of tests in 2011 that revealed nothing abnormal about his heart and was cleared to make his next start. He even wore a monitor for 24 hours to measure his heart throughout the day.

''This is the first time it's happened since,'' Niese said. ''So once every two years, I will take that.''

Niese also underwent an extra EKG at spring training in 2012 and was declared healthy.

''It just comes out of nowhere. I just threw that last pitch and it just feels like your heart is beating really fast and really hard,'' he said. ''It can come back at any moment. It just happens.''

TRAINER'S ROOM

Astros: Interim manager Tom Lawless said relievers Josh Fields and Darin Downs, both sidelined by oblique injuries, remain day to day. ... CF Dexter Fowler was checked by a trainer in the sixth after getting hit by a pitch on the right wrist. Fowler stayed in the game and made a sliding catch moments later with two runners on.

Mets: OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis was scratched from the lineup because he felt ill when he arrived at the ballpark. ... C Travis d'Arnaud will miss the final few games of the season because of a bone spur in his right elbow. He said he is scheduled for surgery Wednesday to remove the spur.

UP NEXT

Lawless will formally interview for Houston's permanent managerial job with GM Jeff Luhnow on Saturday afternoon at Citi Field.

Mets rookie RHP Rafael Montero (1-3, 4.38 ERA) makes his eighth major league start Saturday night against Astros RHP Samuel Deduno (2-6, 4.66).

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