Burke cracked his first Major League home run off Pedro Martinez in the seventh inning on Tuesday night, blasting the 1-1 offering into the Astros' bullpen to break up the right-hander's no-hitter and shutout effort.
Unfortunately for the Astros, it would be the only offense they would generate on a hot and steamy night at Shea Stadium. Stymied by Martinez's complete-game two-hitter, the Astros dropped the first game of a three-game set to the Mets, 3-1.
"I'll give [Martinez] credit for pitching a good ballgame," Astros manager Phil Garner said. "I still think we should have done better against him."
If you flash back to last Tuesday, Burke was still wearing the uniform of the Triple-A Round Rock Express. Seven days later, the organization's top prospect found himself digging into the batter's box at Shea Stadium, consciously trying to break up a three-time Cy Young Award winner's run at history.
"I think every hitter, especially in the latter parts of the games, starts to realize there's a no-hitter," Burke said. "I wanted to break up the no-hitter and the shutout. ... I was hoping it was going to give us a little more momentum. [Martinez] can locate three pitches at will. It's really tough to get comfortable as a hitter."
With the baseball at his side as a trophy -- retrieved by the Houston relievers -- Burke could boast one better than most of the Astros against Martinez, who walked one -- Orlando Palmeiro leading off the fourth inning -- and struck out 12. Lance Berkman was the only other hitter to reach Martinez, singling with two outs in the seventh inning.
"There's a reason he was a sought-after free agent," said Craig Biggio, who went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. "He gives them an opportunity to win. Once again, he went out there and pitched a good game."
It didn't go as swimmingly for Astros starter Roy Oswalt, who was touched for a career-high 12 hits. New York plated a run in the first inning on doubles by Mike Cameron and Cliff Floyd, then added a second run in the fifth, when Martinez singled and came around to score on a Carlos Beltran single.
"I was a little bit all over the place," Oswalt said. "I had enough to keep the ball down most of the time, when I needed to. Overall, I thought I threw pretty well. I gave up a lot of hits, but for the most part, none of them were real hard."
Oswalt also found himself at the center of a minor controversy in the seventh inning, when the right-hander hit Floyd in the right shoulder with a fastball.
Floyd -- who was hit by Oswalt at Shea Stadium last August following a May grand slam at Minute Maid Park -- immediately barked out at the mound, prompting both benches and bullpens to briefly spill onto the playing field.
"The thing with Cliff is, he stands on the plate like Mo Vaughn," Oswalt said. "He's got the big elbow pad on right over the plate. You go in, you're either going to nick him or you're going to hit him. We said we're going to pitch him in and just try to get him out. ... If you don't establish in, you'll get killed going away all the time."
"There's no intention to hit [Floyd]," Garner said. "There's no reason to hit him."
While cooler heads prevailed on the field, Floyd continued to fume at first base. He later had pointed words for Oswalt, who has hit four batters in 89 innings this year.
"It's been talked about around the league," Floyd told reporters. "I'm not saying retaliation is coming from this team. I'm saying he will [get retaliation], sooner or later."
Regardless of the incident, Oswalt's night would come to an end two batters later. Mike Piazza walked and Marlon Anderson singled off Morgan Ensberg's glove, plating New York's third run.
Oswalt struck out seven and walked one en route to suffering his team-high seventh loss of the year.
"It wasn't a night when he had his best control," Garner said. "He wasn't as sharp control-wise as he has been this year. That hurt him a little bit."
Bryan Hoch is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less