The formula may be simple, but it has been fool-proof this week. Just wait until the latter innings, and Jose Reyes will do something to help propel the Mets to victory.
The comeback came this time in the form of a three-run seventh -- fueled again by Reyes' legs, and a crucial Houston error -- as New York scratched back for its fourth straight late-inning win, a series-sweeping 4-3 decision over old friend John Franco and the Astros on Thursday night in a chilly Shea Stadium.
"That's the way I like us to play. . . . We keep playing, and that's the type of team that I need to have," said Willie Randolph, whose resilient bunch is now one game under .500 after an 0-5 start. "We keep battling, and things keep happening. It helps to get a little luck . . . and tonight you saw that when you put the ball in play, anything can happen."
And it suddenly seems the possibilities are endless for a team that looked lifeless during the first week of the season.
"My blood pressure's getting bad, just sitting there waiting for us until the last second to score," said 22-year-old David Wright, who walked to start the winning rally. "But it's unbelievable. There's a sense whether we're up, down, it doesn't matter, we're going to come back and win."
They were down again in this one, although Victor Zambrano (three runs, nine hits, four walks) escaped further trouble often in his second start this season. At least one runner reached third base in five of the six innings he completed, and the man acquired for Scott Kazmir trailed 3-1 when lefty Mike Matthews (1-0) replaced him.
To his credit, Zambrano did help save a run in the fifth when the Astros tried a double steal with two out. Zambrano corraled Mike Piazza's toss at home plate and tagged Jason Lane for the third out.
Sanchez returns as Rays win
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Carl Crawford hit a three-run homer and Travis Lee and Josh Phelps also drove in three runs apiece to lead the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to a 12-7 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
The Devil Rays snapped a three-game losing streak with a season-high 14 hits. Crawford's second homer of the season was the big blow in a seven-run fourth inning against Sidney Ponson (1-1).
Alex Sanchez, the first player disciplined for violating baseball's new policy on performance-enhancing drugs, returned from a 10-day suspension and had two hits and scored a run for Tampa Bay.
"I'm done with my suspension, so now I'm just focused on playing baseball," Sanchez said.
Cora delivers for Indians
CLEVELAND -- Alex Cora's tiebreaking single barely reached the outfield -- but it gave the Cleveland Indians a needed jolt. Cora grounded a ball through a hole in the Chicago infield and Travis Hafner followed with a two-run double to help the Indians beat the White Sox, 8-6.
"That was savvy baseball by a real professional," said Indians third baseman Aaron Boone of Cora's strategy-foiling hit. "We needed a run and what he did is just the kind of thing to give the whole team a burst of energy. It was big lift. You could feel it."
Victor Martinez hit his first homer of the season and drove in two, and Hafner and Ben Broussard also had two RBIs apiece as the Indians pounded out 10 hits to avoid a three-game sweep.
White Sox left fielder Carl Everett left in the first inning with a bruised left shoulder after running into the left-field wall trying to catch Broussard's two-run triple.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Roy Halladay pitched like it was 2003, when he won the AL Cy Young Award.
Halladay threw a five-hitter for his 16th career complete game, and pinch-hitter Russ Adams drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI groundout to lead the Toronto Blue Jays to a 2-1 victory over the Texas Rangers.
Halladay (2-0) started the night with a 9.20 ERA in six career appearances at the Rangers' hitter-friendly ballpark, but he was in control as he struck out nine and walked one in his third start.
"It's nice to go long in a close game," Halladay said. "This has always been a tough lineup for me. I haven't figured them out but I had a better idea than I had in the past."
It was Halladay's first complete game since last April 15 at Detroit.
Toronto manager John Gibbons said Halladay was pitching so well that he wasn't tempted to go to closer Miguel Batista in the ninth.
"It was his game to win or lose," Gibbons said.
Around the horn
Brad Radke pitched six strong innings and Lew Ford's three-run homer highlighted a four-run sixth inning as the Twins completed a three-game sweep of the Tigers, 10-4. . . . The Mariners got three RBIs apiece from Richie Sexson and Jeremy Reed and beat the punchless Royals, 10-2, for a three-game sweep in their first trip of the year.