NEW YORK -- In his last two starts for New York, Jae Seo has not allowed a run in 14 1/3 innings, the longest scoreless streak by a Mets starter this season.
Those two starts were separated by three months in the minor leagues, pitching for Triple-A Norfolk, while Seo waited for another chance at big league hitters.
He was sent down after holding Philadelphia to one hit over seven innings on May 4 and celebrated his return to the Mets on Saturday, limiting the Chicago Cubs to four hits over 7 1/3 innings and outpitching Greg Maddux in a 2-0 victory.
Tired of the inconsistent pitching of Kaz Ishii, the Mets sent the left-hander to Norfolk and brought back Seo for Saturday's start. Now, he'll stick around for at least one more while the Mets mull the return of Steve Trachsel to their rotation.
"I'm glad we got the win today," manager Willie Randolph said.
"Jae Seo gets his next start. Then we'll wait and see how it plays
Trachsel, out all season because of back surgery, has two more rehab starts scheduled. Ishii had occupied his spot in the rotation all season and was 3-9 with a 5.04 ERA when he was sent down. In light of Seo's performance, Randolph was asked if he thought the switch should have been made earlier.
"I never second-guess myself," the manager said.
Seo (3-1) had not pitched in nine days as the Mets prepared him for Saturday's assignment against Maddux. He sent the Cubs to their fourth straight loss and fifth in the last six games by striking
out four and walking one.
"I felt I had to be strong and make the best pitches possible," Seo said through an interpreter. "It's been a while. I was just a little bit nervous and I had to concentrate. I threw a lot of cutters and splitters."
Maddux (8-9), winless since July 10, was bidding for his 314th win to tie Gaylord Perry for 16th place on the career list. He allowed four hits over seven innings, striking out five and walking two.
"He did his part in all ways," manager Dusty Baker said. "He pitched great, he made some great fielding plays, he stole a base,
he got our first hit. He did everything he could to put us in position to win."
The top of the Cubs lineup did not. Chicago's first six hitters were 0-for-22, including 0-for-18 against Seo, who retired the side in order four times.
Hernandez was troubled by his location lately and noticed his pitches getting up in the bullpen.
"I knew he was sitting on a fastball," Hernandez said of Lee,
who has 33 home runs this season. "I shook off fastballs to throw
splitters. That pitch I could keep down."
The Mets reached Maddux for a run in the first.
Miguel Cairo singled with one out and stole second. After Carlos Beltran walked, Maddux struck out Cliff Floyd and got two quick strikes on David Wright, but Wright then doubled to left to score Cairo.
In the third, New York made it 2-0 when Jose Reyes singled, moved up on a fly ball, stole third and scored on a single by Beltran.
The Cubs threatened in the fifth when Jose Macias singled and raced to third on a hit-and-run single by Henry Blanco. Maddux sacrificed Blanco to second, but Seo got Matt Lawton on a comebacker to end the inning.
Blanco opened the eighth with a double, and after pinch-hitter Todd Hollandsworth lined out, Seo was lifted and left to a standing ovation. Dae-Sung Koo relieved and walked Lawton before Todd Walker
flied out. Hernandez, burned in his last three outings, relieved
Koo and struck out Lee to end the inning.
Maddux had the first Cubs hit in the third inning and was
credited with the seventh stolen base of his career when Seo
ignored him and then threw low and wide to second base. ... Reyes
stretched his hitting streak to a career-high 19 games and stole
his 37th base. Reyes' streak is the longest current one in the
majors. ... At Norfolk, Seo was 7-4 with a 4.29 ERA in 19 starts.
... Marlon Anderson struck out three times.