Pelfrey outduels Zambrano as Reyes, Mets blank Cubs

NEW YORK -- Jose Reyes popped up from his first triple this season with a big grin on his face and gave several emphatic hand claps.

Mike Pelfrey's performance was pretty electric, too.

Reyes had a two-run triple among his four hits Tuesday night after being held out of the starting lineup Monday and Pelfrey pitched three-hit ball for seven innings to run his scoreless streak to 19, leading the New York Mets to a 4-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

"No matter how he plays he's a spark plug," Pelfrey said of Reyes. "You love looking behind you and seeing him smiling, having a good time."

Reyes was certainly flashing that toothy smile when he spoke of the big right-hander, who didn't allow a hit until Mike Fontenot's one-out single in the fifth.

"There's no doubt he looked confident on the mound," Reyes said.

The Mets took advantage of a two-out walk to Pelfrey in the second to score the game's first runs against a stingy Carlos Zambrano. Pinch-hitter Fernando Tatis had a two-run homer in the eighth inning for New York, which has won back-to-back games for the first time this season.

The punchless Cubs have lost four in a row, scoring just six runs during the skid.

"Unfortunately, things are not going the way we expected them," Zambrano said. "But it's early and we have plenty of time to turn this around."

Mets top prospect Ike Davis went 0-for-3 with a walk in his second big league game and made a nifty running catch behind first base in the fourth. His dad -- former New York Yankees reliever Ron Davis -- and stepmother were in the crowd after not having enough time to get to Citi Field from Arizona to see Ike's debut Monday.

Pelfrey (3-0) extended his scoreless streak to 19 innings, matching a career high established July 3-20, 2008. He allowed three hits, walked three in the first three innings and struck out six.

Manuel said the often-moody Pelfrey is in command and is using his secondary pitches to great effect.

"He has great rhythm. There's a better presence. He's staying on top of the mound. He's ready before the hitter is ready," Manuel said. "I think he's that confident and that in control that he could say, 'I'm ready to go and I already know what the sequence is.'"

Pelfrey began a stretch of six splendid starts for New York's rotation Thursday with seven shutout innings against the Colorado Rockies. He also picked up the team's first save of the season, pitching the 20th inning of a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday.

Struggling with his control early, Pelfrey thought back to the relief appearance.

"It creeped into my head a little bit because I wasn't necessarily hitting my spots. I said, 'Man, maybe the other day had an effect,' but I felt great," he said.

Mets starters have allowed just four earned runs in the last 38 innings (0.95 ERA) and New York is 4-2 in that span. Pelfrey has three of the team's six wins -- plus that save against the Cardinals -- and a 0.86 ERA.

Reliever Ryota Igarashi strained his left hamstring when he slipped trying to retrieve Koyie Hill's bunt in front of the mound leading off the eighth for an error. Igarashi left after getting two outs. He'll have an MRI on Wednesday.

Fernando Nieve relieved with a runner on second and struck out Jeff Baker. Francisco Rodriguez finished the three-hitter by pitching the ninth.

Reyes' triple in the second inning was the sort of exciting play the Mets have been waiting to see from their speedy shortstop, who missed all but 36 games last season with a hamstring injury and the beginning of April because of a hyperactive thyroid. His hit leading off the first snapped an 0-for-18 slide. He also had a stolen base.

Manuel thought the rest -- Reyes pinch-hit in the seventh Monday and remained in the game -- was essential.

"We thought that it would be time for him to get his stuff going," Manuel said. "It was just a matter of him getting a bit of a physical and mental break."

Looking recovered from the cramps in his calf and right index finger that hindered his previous start, Zambrano (1-2) kept to form, following a subpar outing (five innings, four runs against Milwaukee) with a solid one. He struck out nine for the second time this season and gave up six hits, while covering plenty of ground stalking around the mound after his three walks.

Game notes
Mets All-Star center fielder Carlos Beltran (knee) saw a doctor in Vail, Colo. He is making progress but still is not ready for baseball activities. ... Cubs left-hander Ted Lilly gave up a run on three hits and a walk over seven innings in a rehab start for Class A Peoria. Manager Lou Piniella said Lilly will pitch this weekend in Milwaukee, likely on Saturday.