HOUSTON — Howard Johnson went on a weight program last winter. This spring, Davey Johnson installed him as the New York Mets' every day third baseman.
The combination is paying off for both Johnsons.
"I'm 26-years-old and I'm maturing physically," Johnson said after he hit two solo home runs Saturday to increase his career high major league home run total to 19 this season, seven more than his previous career high with Detroit in 1984.
Johnson also walked three times and stole three bases to combine with two RBI by Darryl Strawberry and the relief pitching of Randy Myers to lead the New York Mets to a 9-6 victory over the Houston Astros.
Johnson's two home runs Saturday gave him three in two games in two days. He also surpassed a career high by one with his 51st RBI and now has 17 stolen bases.
"I've been on a structured weight program, and that has helped my strength. Also, this is he first time I've played regularly, and that has helped quite a bit," Johnson said. "Stolen bases are part of my game. To be able to hit with power is one thing, but to be able to hit with power and with speed is another thing," "
Davey Johnson said playing time is the easiest explanation.
"Before he has always been a platoon player," the manager said.
Myers, 2-4, took over in the fourth, striking out Denny Walling with the bases loaded and two outs after Houston had cut a 6-1 deficit to 6-5. He went 4 1-3 innings, striking out six, and allowing two hits and one run, Kevin Bass' ninth homer in the eighth.
Roger McDowell pitched the ninth for his 11th save.
Danny Darwin, 5-6, took the loss, the ninth for Houston in its last 13 games, although the three Houston pitchers struck out 14 Mets. Leach, who entered the game 8-0, allowed five runs on seven hits in 3 2-3 innings.
The Mets took a 1-0 lead in the first when Keith Hernandez walked and scored on a triple by Strawberry, who also singled home a run in the ninth.
Houston tied it in their half when Gerald Young scored on a throwing error by catcher Barry Lyons.
Johnson led off the five-run second with a homer. Wally Backman and Keith Hernandez each drove in a run and two more scored when Strawberry's smash glanced off second baseman Bill Doran's glove for an error.
Jose Cruz' eighth homer made it 6-2 in the second and Walling's RBI grounder in the third made it 6-3.