HOUSTON – Chris Schwinden might have pitched his way out of the New York Mets' rotation on Wednesday.
For the second time this season, Schwinden allowed runs early and often, and most of the damage was delivered by one Houston Astros player.
Chris Johnson homered twice off Schwinden and later added two more hits to drive in a career-high six runs and lead the Astros to an 8-1 that completed a three-game sweep.
When asked if he would commit to using Schwinden again as a starter, Mets manager Terry Collins was very blunt.
"I'm not committing to anything," Collins said. "Things change in this game."
Even without hearing Collins' comments, Schwinden didn't seem optimistic about his chances at another start.
"I know it doesn't really help me, but I think their patience is kind of wearing a little bit with my performance," Schwinden said. "I just have to keep my head on straight, and if I get another opportunity, try to go for it."
Johnson's first homer of the season was a three-run shot to the Crawford Boxes in left field that put Houston up 3-0 in the second inning. Johnson went deep again in his next at-bat, this one a two-run homer to left center that pushed the lead to 5-0.
It was the third consecutive start dating to last season where Schwinden (0-1) allowed five earned runs in five innings or less. On Wednesday, he allowed five runs, six hits, walked two and struck out one batter to leave his ERA at 11.25. He also pitched four innings in his other start this season, an 18-9 loss at Colorado in which he received a no decision.
"I made a couple of bad pitches, and they got hammered," Schwinden said. "I thought today was going to be a little different, but I left a couple of balls up in the zone, and it changed the whole day."
But Schwinden wasn't the only Mets pitcher to perform poorly against the streaking Astros (11-14).
In just two innings, relief pitcher Manny Acosta allowed six hits and three earned runs, while striking out just one batter.
"He's really trying too hard," Collins said. "He's overthrowing, and balls are in the middle of the plate. He's trying way too hard, and he's trying to get it going again. He's just got to relax and pitch."
David Wright walked in the fourth inning, stole second base and scored on a single by Andres Torres to leave Houston up 5-1. Wright tripled with one out in the eighth, but reliever David Carpenter retired the next two batters to leave New York empty-handed.
The Mets had trouble stringing hits together against Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez (3-2). They got more than one in an inning just once while he was pitching. A single by Kirk Nieuwenhuis followed a double by Scott Hairston in the sixth, but Rodriguez retired the next two batters to get out of the inning.
Rodriguez yielded six hits and a run in seven innings to lower his ERA to 1.64.
The loss marked the first time this season the Mets (13-12) were swept.
"You have ups and downs, and this is a down," Collins said. "They out-pitched us and they out-hit us."
The Mets were again hit by flu-like symptoms Wednesday as their scheduled starter in right field, Lucas Duda, was replaced by Scott Hairston before the game started. Nieuwenhuis took his spot in the batting order.
When asked if Duda and catcher Mike Nickeas were the only Mets players who weren't feeling well, Collins joked about the recent struggles.
"Not by the looks of the way this series went," Collins said.
NOTES: Houston CF Jordan Schafer, who sat out Tuesday after experiencing soreness in his left side, started on Wednesday, but was replaced by Justin Maxwell for the fifth inning because of tightness in his lower back. The Astros are off Thursday and Houston manager Brad Mills expects Schafer to return on Friday. ... The Mets fell to 5-7 on the road.