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HOU@NYM: Lyles' arm, bat leads Astros past Mets

So far, the Giants haven't just weathered the proverbial storm that was supposed to come with the suspension of All-Star outfielder Melky Cabrera and the blockbuster trade made by the division-rival Dodgers.

They've thrived in it.

The Giants' current 3 1/2-game edge in the National League West is a season high, and they'll be looking to expand that in the final game of a three-game set against the Astros on Thursday.

Houston, which has struggled against San Francisco this season winning just once in eight games, sends right-hander Jordan Lyles to the hill, trying to avoid a sweep.

He faces Ryan Vogelsong (11-7, 2.90 ERA), who struggled with the long ball his last time out. Vogelsong surrendered just four hits, but three of them were home runs.

Still, Vogelsong was otherwise solid, and he picked up the win after making several mechanical adjustments before the game.

"I just felt like my direction to home plate needed to get better," Vogelsong said after the start. "I felt like I was swinging off the ball a little bit the last few games, and I was showing the ball maybe too early. I just really tried to work on getting some better direction to the plate and hide the ball a little bit longer."

On Friday against the Mets, Lyles (3-10, 5.47 ERA) notched his first win since June 26, when he allowed a run over six innings. Big innings have given Lyles trouble all year, but Friday, Lyles was especially adept at fighting his way out of jams.

"It's big for me; that's what hurt me all year," Lyles said about working in and out of trouble. "Hopefully this is the right step moving forward, and hopefully I can build on it and finish strong this year."

That victory gave interim manager Tony DeFrancesco his first -- and so far only -- win as a Major League manager. Despite all the losing, DeFrancesco likes the way his team is progressing.

"I think we're in a good place," DeFrancesco said. "No. 1 is the team. We're out, and we're competing now. For me, they're in the game, they're up on the top step here. We're rooting for each other. A hit here or there, we've got a few wins under our belt. I like the attitude. We're playing hard."

Giants: Mota returns
In his first game back after a 100-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's substance-abuse policy, Guillermo Mota allowed one run on a hit and a walk in two-thirds of an inning.

Mota was suspended May 7 after he tested positive for Clenbuterol, which he said appeared in his daughter's prescription cough medicine.

"I paid my price," Mota said. "What I did was a mistake, to not read the label, but that's in the past. What counts is from now on."

• The Giants activated left-hander Jeremy Affeldt after his paternity leave and sent Clay Hensley to the 15-day DL with a strained right groin.

Astros: Biggio addresses team
Legendary Astros second baseman Craig Biggio addressed the current club Wednesday, emphasizing the benefits of playing the right way and hustling.

DeFrancesco and Biggio each played college ball at Seton Hall (though Biggio played there after DeFrancesco was gone). After Biggio left college, he played 20 seasons in the big leagues from 1988-2007, all with Houston.

"I was honored to do it," Biggio said about speaking to the team. "Obviously, this organization has been the only organization I've ever played with, and getting the opportunity to talk in front of the boys was a nice thing."

Worth noting
• Current Houston hitters don't have much experience against Vogelsong. In only 20 plate appearances, they've mustered just two hits and a walk.

• The Giants have won five straight road games, and their 16-5 mark on the road since the All-Star break is the best in the Majors.

• This week's series against the Astros marks a stretch running from now until the end of the season during which the Giants don't play a team currently at or above .500 except for the Dodgers.

• The Astros' last four losses have all been by either one or two runs.

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