Dodgers bats help Kuo to first major-league victory

NEW YORK (AP) -- Hong-Chih Kuo reacted to the news that he would
get another start in the Los Angeles Dodgers' rotation with the
same calm that he exhibited in his first start.

"Just got to get ready," he said with a blank look.

Nomar Garciaparra and Rafael Furcal homered to help Kuo get his
first major league victory in the Dodgers' 5-0 win over the New
York Mets on Friday night.

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

"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.

The Mets, who were blanked for the second in time five days,
only managed four hits against Kuo and three relievers -- Brett
Tomko, Jonathan Broxton and Takashi Saito.

"[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."

David Wright had two hits for New York but also committed a
costly throwing error that led to two runs for the Dodgers. John
Maine (5-4) lost for the first time since July 8 against Florida.

"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

"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.

Game notes
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.