LOS ANGELES (AP)—It had been almost a year since a New York Mets starter pitched more than eight innings.
John Maine ended that drought and his teammates made it easy for him with their second-best offensive output of the season.
“Offense, offense, offense—it makes a world of difference,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “Johnny obviously set the tone with a nice job of pitching. He almost got a complete game. What a novelty.”
Maine (4-2) helped his cause with a two-run single off Penny, and was two outs from his third shutout and complete game in the majors when Matt Kemp hit an RBI single on the right-hander’s 117th and final pitch. A day before his 27th birthday, Maine allowed four hits in 8 1-3 innings and won his third straight start—all following Mets’ losses.
“I felt good from the first pitch to the last pitch. It’s probably the best I’ve felt all year,” Maine said. “I wish I could have finished it out, but I think I threw one to many fastballs to Kemp.”
It was the sixth straight outing in which Maine allowed fewer than three runs. He became the first Mets starter to pitch more than seven innings this season and the first since May 13, 2007, when Oliver Perez went 8 1-3 against Milwaukee, to go beyond eight.
“What he did today was huge,” closer Billy Wagner said. “Anytime you can give the bullpen a physical and a mental day off, we can relax and take a deep breath. I think we have 115 appearances in 32 games. That’s tough. And for him to step up and pitch a big game like that with a day off tomorrow, it’ll speak volumes down the road.”
Penny (5-3) was charged with a career-high 10 runs over 4 2-3 innings in his 236th career start and gave up 10 hits for the third time in his eight starts this season.
“Everything that could go wrong, went wrong today,” the nine-year veteran said. “Today I didn’t give the team a chance.”
Penny’s previous worst outing was on June 29, 2003, with the Florida Marlins, when the two-time All-Star right-hander surrendered nine runs and four homers in an 11-7 loss at Boston.
“With Penny, it seems like if he does struggle, it’s going to be early. So if you get him early, you’re going to be all right,” said right fielder Ryan Church, who singled twice against Penny and homered off reliever Scott Proctor.
“Penny’s an All-Star guy and he’s been pitching well for the last few years, so you can’t take anything away from him. But today just wasn’t his day,” former Dodgers teammate Marlon Anderson said. “We hit some fastballs early in the count and we just battled. That’s what you have to do to beat good pitching and win a championship.”
Penny has always had problems against the Mets in New York. He is 1-9 with a 6.54 ERA in 11 starts at Shea Stadium. But he lost for the first time in four career decisions against the Mets at Los Angeles.
The Mets blew it open with a six-run fifth that equaled a season high. Maine singled with the bases loaded to make it 7-0, and Penny departed after walking Jose Reyes. Proctor walked Castillo, forcing in another run, and Wright—in a 1-for-20 funk—hit a two-run double. Castillo scored on Proctor’s wild pitch.
“When eight other guys and the pitcher are raking, like today, it takes a little of the pressure off myself offensively,” Wright said.
Angel Pagan, starting in left field while 41-year-old Moises Alou got the day off, turned in the defensive play of the game in the first when he somersaulted into the first row of the box seats and held onto Andre Ethier’s foul fly.
Pagan remained on the hard cement for a few anxious moments but returned to his position, rubbing his left shoulder and flashing a huge grin as the crowd of 40,696 applauded his effort. He left in the third with tightness in the shoulder after sliding headfirst into second with a stolen base.
After the game, Los Angeles placed Esteban Loaiza on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May 4, because of tightness in his shoulder blade. … The Dodgers visit Shea Stadium for the final time for a four-game series that begins on May 29. Their overall record there is 122-131.