Mets Get Strong Start From 'El Duque'

Wednesday, April 4th 2007, 7:40 am
By: News On 6

The veterans on the New York Mets' pitching staff aren't kidding around this season.

Two nights after Tom Glavine shut down St. Louis, fellow 41-year-old starter Orlando Hernandez threw seven innings of five-hit ball and hit a two-run double that matched his career RBI output in a 4-1 victory over the Cardinals on Tuesday night.

El Duque, who missed the 2006 postseason with a calf injury, also picked off a runner.

``I've seen him do this many times,'' manager Willie Randolph said. ``He's just a Houdini sometimes.''

The Mets have been impressive in taking the first two games of a season-opening three-game series against the team that eliminated them in a seven-game NLCS last year. And they've done it with starting pitching, which was supposed to be their weakness.

``Last year, that's all they talked about and we were third in all of baseball, and that's all they can talk about now,'' catcher Paul Lo Duca said. ``I've told everybody our pitching is going to be a lot better than everybody thinks.''

New York prevailed Tuesday after the Cardinals received their World Series rings. On Sunday night, the Mets won 6-1 behind Glavine following a flag-raising ceremony along with the usual opening-day hoopla that included a convertible caravan around the warning track.

In other NL games, it was: San Diego 7, San Francisco 0; Pittsburgh 3, Houston 2; Milwaukee 4, the Los Angeles Dodgers 3; Florida 9, Washington 3; and Colorado 4, Arizona 3, 11 innings.

At St. Louis, Kip Wells' six-inning stint in his Cardinals debut was marred by shaky defense, including his own costly mistake. The Mets scored unearned runs in the first and fifth before Hernandez, a career .147 hitter with two RBIs in 68 at-bats entering the season, tacked on a two-run, bases-loaded double in the sixth.

``For the most part, I liked the way I threw,'' Wells said. ``But there are always things I'm in control of and can do better, and that's what I'll work on.''

Hernandez's hit down the third-base line put the Mets ahead 4-0 and nearly cleared the bases _ the relay from shortstop David Eckstein was just in time to get Javier Valentin at the plate. Valentin had been intentionally walked.

``If I hit, it's OK. I'm most happy that I threw seven innings and threw all of my pitches,'' Hernandez said.

Padres 7, Giants 0

At San Francisco, Jake Peavy upstaged both superstar Barrys _ and his former manager.

Peavy (1-0) sparkled in six shutout innings and San Diego beat San Francisco in the season opener for both clubs, giving rookie skipper Bud Black a win in his debut against predecessor Bruce Bochy.

Barry Bonds resumed his pursuit of Hank Aaron's home run record with a single, stolen base, walk, groundout and fly ball to the warning track in a 1-for-3 showing on a day when the Giants matched their most lopsided loss in an opener in 75 years.

Barry Zito (0-1), San Francisco's new $126 million ace, was outpitched by Peavy in his NL debut after spending his first seven seasons across San Francisco Bay with the Oakland Athletics.

Pirates 3, Astros 2

At Houston, Xavier Nady homered for the second consecutive night and singled home the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, leading Pittsburgh past Houston.

Ronny Paulino hit a tying RBI single off Dan Wheeler (0-1), who also gave up Nady's key hit.

Jonah Bayliss (1-0) got the win and Salomon Torres earned his second save.

Brewers 4, Dodgers 3

At Milwaukee, Kevin Mench hit a go-ahead, two-run homer off Randy Wolf in the sixth inning, sending the Brewers to a victory over Los Angeles.

Prince Fielder also homered off Wolf (0-1), who gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings. Brewers reliever Brian Shouse (1-0) came in with the bases loaded in the sixth and got Juan Pierre to ground into an inning-ending forceout.

Derrick Turnbow, trying to rebound from a rough second half in 2006, pitched a perfect eighth. Francisco Cordero struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save.

Marlins 9, Nationals 3

At Washington, Scott Olsen (1-0) had a double, single and an RBI, all while taking a two-hit shutout into the sixth inning and helping Florida beat Washington to improve to 2-0 for only the second time in its 15 seasons.

Nationals starter Shawn Hill (0-1) allowed five runs and five hits in five innings.

Rockies 4, Diamondbacks 3, 11 innings

At Denver, Troy Tulowitzki doubled in the tying run and scored the winner on third baseman Alberto Callaspo's error in the 11th inning for Colorado.

Todd Helton and Matt Holliday led off the 11th with singles against Arizona closer Jose Valverde (0-1), but Brad Hawpe hit into a double play. Tulowitzki doubled in pinch-runner Jamey Carroll, then Callaspo couldn't handle Chris Iannetta's grounder.

The Diamondbacks took the lead in the top half when Stephen Drew hit a two-out single off winner Byung-Hyun Kim (1-0).