Updated: August 14, 2008, 11:29 AM ET

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AP Photo/Nick Wass

John Maine was back on the mound Wednesday against the Nationals.

Mets get Maine man back

John Maine made his first start for the Mets since July 28 on Wednesday, tossing five scoreless innings versus the Nationals. The right-hander had been out with a rotator cuff strain, and his ownership in ESPN leagues dropped to about 60 percent during his stint on the disabled list. Maine lowered his ERA to 3.97 in his first game back, allowing one hit and four walks while striking out six.

Maine had shown growth in his first two seasons in the Mets' rotation, but this year, he's struggled a bit more with his control.

John Maine
Season IP ERA WHIP B/9 K/9 HR/9
2006 90 3.60 1.13 3.30 7.10 1.50
2007 191 3.91 1.27 3.50 8.50 1.10
2008 129 1/3 3.97 1.32 4.24 8.00 0.97

Maine's ERA has increased each month this season, and there's really no skills growth evident in his 2008 numbers. At this point, Maine is a younger, left-handed version of Ted Lilly: a No. 3 starter with a solid strikeout rate, spotty control and occasional home run trouble. Maine is reliable now and, at age 27, still has considerable upside, but ESPN readers are on the money -- he's not yet an every-down back in mixed leagues.

Past editions: 8/13: Lincecum leaves game early | 8/12: Longoria lost to DL

Box Score Bits

Minnesota right-hander Kevin Slowey threw six innings and allowed one run versus the Yankees to keep the Twins within a half-game of the White Sox in the American League Central. Derek Jeter missed the game for New York, still suffering the effects of fouling a ball off his foot Tuesday. He's expected to return Friday. … A day after hitting the game-winning home run with two outs in the eighth inning, Kevin Youkilis backed a solid Jon Lester effort with three doubles as Boston beat Texas again to remain three games behind the AL East-leading Rays. Texas slugger Josh Hamilton left the game in the sixth inning to return home for the birth of his child. … Jeremy Guthrie allowed just one run for the fourth consecutive start as Baltimore beat Cleveland 6-1. Melvin Mora and Nick Markakis stayed hot for the Orioles, who have scored 44 runs in their past six games. … Blue Jays relief ace Scott Downs, who didn't allow an earned run in May or June and had emerged as B.J. Ryan's primary setup man, is headed to the disabled list with a sprained ankle suffered Wednesday while backing up a play in a win over Detroit. Downs had a 17 2/3-inning scoreless streak snapped before exiting the game. … Carlos Quentin missed his second consecutive game with a forearm injury, but Mark Buehrle delivered seven scoreless innings as the White Sox beat Luke Hochevar and the punchless Royals 4-0. Sox second baseman Alexei Ramirez's absence was a routine day of rest. … The Mariners' Felix Hernandez and the Angels' Ervin Santana turned in sold outings, but both bullpens imploded, including blown saves from both Francisco Rodriguez (who was ejected as well) and J.J. Putz. Raul Ibanez and Mark Teixeira were the offensive standouts. … Andy Sonnanstine outdueled Justin Duchscherer as the Rays topped the A's 3-2 behind Eric Hinske's three hits. … Mets rookie Dan Murphy collected three more hits and now is 14-for-30 since his call-up. Murphy is playing left field against left-handed pitching. … The Cubs swept a doubleheader with Atlanta by a combined score of 18-2, with Jason Marquis besting Charlie Morton in the first game and an effectively wild Rich Harden winning the nightcap versus Jorge Campillo. Struggling Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome, whose OPS has declined each month this season, picked up just his fourth and fifth hits of August in the second game after taking the collar in the first. … Pittsburgh's Paul Maholm was sharp again versus the Reds, allowing two runs or fewer for the sixth straight turn outside of Wrigley Field or Coors Field. Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson missed his sixth straight start with a sore shoulder. … Chris Perez picked up his third save in four games for St. Louis since his Aug. 6 call-up. … Randy Wolf pitched seven strong innings to lead the Astros to their seventh straight victory. … CC Sabathia was dominant again, beating the Padres to move to 7-0 with a 1.55 ERA since joining the Brewers. … Brad Penny was touched for six runs on three innings, but the Dodgers tied the Diamondbacks for first place in the National League West division with a comeback win over the Phillies. Los Angeles catcher Russell Martin collected three hits; he had entered the game with just six singles to show for 38 August at-bats.


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Standing Out

SCATTERED PRODUCTION
Nomar Garciaparra, Dodgers
Back from his third DL stint of the season, Garciaparra hit his sixth home run and drove in his 20th run in just his 96th at-bat of the season. That's a 34-home run, 112-RBI pace if spread over an entire 162-game season.


SCREECHING HALT TO STREAK
Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
Don't be too hard on Ichiro for his 0-for-6 performance. The off night snapped a 17-game hitting streak in which Ichiro hit .394 in 76 at-bats.
News and Notes

Injured Indians Victor Martinez and Josh Barfield both are scheduled to begin Double-A rehab assignments this week. … Carlos Guillen's MRI showed only a pinched nerve; he's expected to avoid the disabled list with a few days of rest. … The Rangers have pushed Vicente Padilla's Thursday start back to Sunday due to clavicle inflammation. Tommy Hunter will start Thursday's game in his place. … The White Sox are giving Jose Contreras' rotation spot to Larry Broadway, not D.J. Carrasco. Neither is worth tracking in mixed leagues. … Giants ace Tim Lincecum, who left Tuesday's game with a bruised knee, was feeling much better Wednesday and is expected to make his next start. … Brewers slugger Ryan Braun also was much improved Wednesday. Braun hasn't played since Saturday with a strained rib muscle, and he likely will be out a few more days but expects to avoid the disabled list.
They Wrote It

"The workload [CC Sabathia] assumed for his temporary employers is daunting, if not alarming, but Sabathia says he's not thinking about that; he's accustomed to being the heavy lifter on a staff. "I'm not worried," he says. "I've always been about winning."

-- Buster Olney Hired Guns

Transactions

• The Pirates activated first baseman Adam LaRoche from the disabled list and demoted Jose Bautista, who was the starter at third base before the acquisition of Adam's brother Andy .

• The Red Sox sent third baseman Mike Lowell to the disabled list with an oblique strain. Kevin Youkilis started the game at third base, with Sean Casey lining up at first, which should be the norm as long as Casey can contribute with his bat and his glove.

• The Tigers sent Joel Zumaya to the disabled list with shoulder soreness. Zumaya hasn't been healthy all year and could be shut down for the duration of the season.

• Oakland outfielder Ryan Sweeney, already suffering from various nicks and dings, also is hitting the disabled list, this time with a sprained thumb. Eric Patterson was recalled to replace him.

• The Giants made several moves Wednesday, sending John Bowker to Triple-A while recalling Travis Ishikawa and Pablo Sandoval. Both could see time at first base. The club also designated Jose Castillo for assignment, recalling Ryan Rohlinger to help Rich Aurilia replace Castillo at third base.

• Cleveland recalled left-hander Zach Jackson from Triple-A. Jackson, who was acquired from Milwaukee in the CC Sabathia deal, will replace Paul Byrd in the rotation starting Thursday.

On The Farm

• Rays left-hander David Price, the first overall pick in the 2007 draft, lost for the first time as a professional Wednesday. Price, who had been 11-0 with a sub-2.00 ERA at two levels this season, allowed three runs on seven hits in four innings in his first Triple-A start. He struck out six batters while walking none.

• Pittsburgh right-hander Ross Ohlendorf, acquired from the Yankees in the Xavier Nady trade, tossed eight scoreless innings Wednesday. Ohlendorf has a 3.60 ERA with a 47-to-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He will receive a September call-up and conceivably could win a spot in the Pirates' 2009 rotation.