Dodgers 5, Mets 0
“Just got to get ready,” he said with a blank look.
Kuo (1-4) yielded three hits, struck out seven and walked three in six innings on Taiwan heritage night at Shea Stadium. He became the third Taiwanese pitcher ever to start a game in the major leagues.
“We knew he was limited with the number of pitches that he had to work with because of his inexperience starting games this season but he got us very deep into that game with a good quality start out there,” said Dodgers manager Grady Little, who announced afterward that Kuo would start against the Cubs on Thursday. “We’re proud for him.”
Kenny Lofton had two hits and an RBI for the Dodgers, who won for only the second time in their last six games. The win also ensured another day in first place for Los Angeles, which led the NL West by a half-game over San Diego heading into play Friday.
“(Kuo) was throwing that breaking ball for strikes, which is not his strength,” Mets right fielder Shawn Green said. “He’s got that 95 (mph) fastball and once you are behind in the count you’ve got to look for it. He’s a little funky.”
“He stayed pretty focused for the most part,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said of Maine. “He has pitched great for us. Every once in a while you have one like this.”
Furcal led off the fifth with his 10th homer to put Los Angeles in front 3-0. One batter later, Garciaparra hit an 0-1 pitch from Maine into the bleachers in left. The Dodgers almost had a third solo homer in the inning but Carlos Beltran timed his jump perfectly, sticking his glove over the wall to take one away from J.D. Drew.
Kuo held the Mets hitless before Wright led off the bottom half of the fifth with a single to center. Green then singled to left but Kuo struck out Chris Woodward and got Lastings Milledge to bounce to shortstop Furcal, who started an inning-ending double play.
“He was throwing nasty, pitching great,” Furcal said.
Kuo was subbing for injured right-hander Chad Billingsley, who is working his way back from a strained side muscle and is slated to return to the rotation next Saturday against San Diego.
The left-hander did well in Billingsley’s absence in his first start after 23 relief appearances to start the season. He was converted to a starter last month at Triple-A Las Vegas.
“I feel a little better for the warmup and stuff,” Kuo said. “For me right now, just whatever they put me at I’ve got to do it. I’ve got to go for it, try to finish my job.”
The Dodgers pushed across two unearned runs in the first to snap the Mets’ scoreless streak at 25 innings. With the bases loaded and two outs, Marlon Anderson hit a grounder to third that Wright appeared to bobble for a second before throwing wide of first.
“It had a lot of spin,” Wright said. “I couldn’t get a good grip on it. The ball was rolling around, so I just threw it away.”
Furcal and Garciaparra raced around to score to make it 2-0. Maine then struck out Wilson Betemit with runners on first and third to limit the damage.
Maine allowed four runs and six hits in five innings. He was 5-0 with four no-decisions in his previous nine starts.
LHP Eric Stults will start Sunday for Los Angeles. It will be Stults’ first major league start and second big league appearance. He is taking the turn of LHP Mark Hendrickson, who will work out of the bullpen while the Dodgers tinker with his mechanics. … Mets LHP Dave Williams will start Monday’s game at Florida and LHP Oliver Perez will go Tuesday against the Marlins. Williams and Perez both pitched in New York’s doubleheader sweep of Atlanta on Wednesday but the Mets decided to give Perez the extra day of rest. … Chien-Ming Wang of the Yankees and Colorado’s Chin-hui Tsao are the other Taiwanese pitchers who have started a game in the big leagues. Tsao is currently on the 60-day disabled list due to shoulder surgery.