Hoping to help their sagging offense, the Mets acquired RF Richard Hidalgo from the Astros yesterday for RHPs David Weathers and Jeremy Griffiths.

Hidalgo has put up big numbers in the past, but he was in the midst of a disappointing season with the Astros. He recently lost his starting job to Jason Lane, and soon after went to GM Gerry Hunsicker and asked to be traded. . . .

The Marlins acquired reliever Billy Koch from the White Sox for minor league IF Wilson Valdez. The deal was announced shortly after Florida beat the White Sox in 12 innings.

* A STRAINED RETURN: RHP Josh Beckett left last night's start against the White Sox in the fourth inning with a muscle strain on the right side of his back.

The Marlins' 2003 World Series MVP had just returned from a 15-day stint on the disabled list because of a blister on his right middle finger. He is listed as day-to-day.

* ACTIVATED: Angels reliever Brendan Donnelly was activated from the disabled list.

Donnelly had missed the entire season after breaking his nose in 20 places in a spring training accident. He was injured on March 9 while shagging flies during batting practice, and doctors said he lost half the blood in his body. . . .

Cardinals C Mike Matheny is likely to be activated from the disabled list today.

Matheny has been out since June 3 because of a strained muscle under his right rib cage.

-- From News Services