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Seo limits Dodgers to five hits in eight innings

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Jae Seo is pitching so well right now, Steve
Trachsel might have to find another starter to knock out of the New
York Mets' rotation when he returns.

Seo pitched eight sharp innings Saturday and the Mets got
consecutive home runs from backup catcher Ramon Castro and
emergency center fielder Gerald Williams in a 5-1 victory over the
Los Angeles Dodgers.

Trachsel is expected to come off the disabled list this week
after making five minor league rehabilitation starts. The
right-hander has yet to pitch for the Mets this season after having
back surgery in March.

Manager Willie Randolph insisted after the game that this outing
wouldn't make or break Seo's chances of starting again in five
days.

"I never thought about whether he would be in or out. It wasn't
an issue for me," Randolph said. "That's stuff you guys talk
about, so don't assume anything. I wasn't clouding my mind with
Trachsel. He's not here right now. Jae Seo stepped up again and did
an outstanding job for us. Even if he didn't pitch well, he still
was going to get the ball from me next time."

Seo didn't know that, because Randolph didn't let him know. That
way, the right-hander was able to focus on his own pitching instead
of peripheral issues.

"I know that Trachsel's coming back, but that wasn't on my mind
today when I took the mound," Seo said through a translator. "My
main goal was to help my team win and pitch the best game I could.
Willie hasn't mentioned anything to me at this point, but I'm not
concerned about that. It's his decision to make, and I'll accept
whatever the decision is."

Seo (4-1) allowed five hits and struck out six, lowering his ERA
to 1.35 in five starts with New York this season. The
right-hander's streak of 20 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings-- the
longest by any Mets pitcher this year -- ended when Olmedo Saenz hit
an RBI double in the seventh.

"Last year I think most of the hitters knew I only threw a
fastball and a changeup," Seo said. "Just adding a cutter and a
splitter this year, it's helping my pitching and confusing the
batters."

D.J. Houlton (4-6) retired his first two batters in the second
before Castro drove a 1-2 pitch to left-center for his fourth
homer.

Williams went the other way with the right-hander's next
delivery and sliced it into the lower seats in the right-field
corner for his first RBI this season. It was only his 14th at-bat
since he was promoted from Triple-A Norfolk on June 21. Williams
came within inches of a two-run homer his next time up, but just
missed hitting the left-field pole.

Williams made his second straight start in place of Carlos
Beltran, who was back at the team's hotel two days after his
violent, head-to-head collision with right fielder Mike Cameron in
San Diego. Cameron was at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, Calif.,
recovering from successful surgery Friday night to repair a broken
nose and two fractured cheekbones.

Houlton allowed three runs -- two earned -- and six hits in six
innings. The rookie is 0-5 in six starts since beating San Diego
5-4 on June 27.

Batterymate Jason Phillips, acquired from the Mets on March 20
for pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii, started behind the plate for the first
time since July 27 -- the night Cincinnati's Ryan Freel stole five
bases against him.

The Mets, who had five steals against Phillips just four days
before that game, got four on Saturday and increased their
NL-leading total to 112.

Phillips declined interview requests after the game. But at the
beginning of this three-game series, he said he regretted not
taking full advantage of the opportunity the Mets gave him last
season when they shifted All-Star catcher Mike Piazza to first
base.

"One of the biggest lessons I learned playing in New York is
that you have to do the job," Phillips said. "If you don't,
they'll find somebody else. On a personal level, I've seen the
penthouse and I've seen the outhouse. I had good and bad
experiences there. It's all part of the journey.

"They gave me an ample opportunity to be the catcher there, but
I didn't hold up my end of the bargain offensively," Phillips
added. "I was real surprised they traded me, actually, because
they also traded Vance Wilson. But they also had brought in a good
catcher in Ramon Castro, who's proven that he can play in the major
leagues."

Jose Reyes swiped two bases and put himself one shy of the club
record for a shortstop, set by Frank Taveras with 42 in 1979.
Reyes' speed apparently flustered Dodgers Gold Glove shortstop
Cesar Izturis, who twice committed fielding errors on grounders by
the Mets' shortstop.

Game notes
A ceremonial first pitch was thrown by 12-year-old Katie
Brownell, who threw a perfect game on May 14 and struck out all 18
batters while pitching for her Little League team. She is the only
girl in the Oakfield-Alabama Little League program, which is
located between Buffalo, N.Y. and Rochester. ... Dodgers 1B
Hee-Seop Choi, a high school teammate of Seo's in South Korea, did
not start despite his four hits in 11 career at-bats against his
countryman. Choi pinch-hit in the sixth and struck out.