Figueroa pitches Mets past Brewers

April 11, 2008 6:55:21 PM PDT
Nelson Figueroa earned his first major league win in five years, retiring 14 straight batters at the start and pitching his hometown New York Mets past the Milwaukee Brewers, 4-2, on a foggy Friday night.Carlos Delgado hit one of New York's three RBI singles and the Mets got a strong effort from their much-maligned bullpen to win their third consecutive game.

Prince Fielder and J.J. Hardy each had an RBI double for the Brewers, who dropped their third straight after opening the season 6-1.

Johan Santana makes his home debut Saturday for the Mets in a marquee matchup against Milwaukee ace Ben Sheets, who has started the year with 15 1-3 scoreless innings over two starts.

New York All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes came out after the fifth inning with tightness in his left hamstring. The speedy Reyes grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the fourth.

Figueroa, who grew up a Mets fan in the same Coney Island projects as basketball star Stephon Marbury, was outstanding in his first big league start since September 2004 with Pittsburgh.

After leaving nearly 100 tickets for family and friends on Dog Day at Shea Stadium, he held Milwaukee to two hits in six innings while striking out six and walking two. His previous win in the majors came on Aug. 15, 2003, with the Pirates against the Brewers.

Joe Smith worked around an error in a scoreless seventh and Aaron Heilman struck out two in a perfect eighth after blowing a two-run lead in Thursday night's 12-inning victory over Philadelphia. Billy Wagner got three quick outs for his first save this season.

Brewers starter Manny Parra (1-1), who pitched a perfect game for Triple-A Nashville last June, allowed three runs and six hits in four innings.

Drafted by the Mets in 1995 out of Division III Brandeis University in Massachusetts, Figueroa (1-0) gives new meaning to the baseball phrase "journeyman." He traveled all over the world in the past year while trying to get back to the majors, pitching in Mexico, Taiwan and the Dominican Republic.

He was cut by New York on the final day of spring training, but called up from the minors on April 2 because of injuries to Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez.

Figueroa, who turns 34 next month, retired his first 14 batters before issuing a four-pitch walk to Corey Hart with two outs in the fifth. Hardy followed with an RBI double, and Figueroa received a warm hand from the crowd. Then he got pinch-hitter Joe Dillon on a called third strike and clapped his hand into his glove while walking off the mound.

Figueroa's batterymate also came full circle with the Mets on Friday night and gave them a lift. Raul Casanova, drafted by New York in 1990, made his first big league appearance for the team and hit an RBI single to make it 3-0 in the fourth.

The 35-year-old Casanova is filling in as the backup catcher while Ramon Castro (hamstring) is on the disabled list.

David Wright singled leading off the fourth and scored on Delgado's single under Fielder's glove at first base. Damion Easley added a sacrifice fly.

Fielder hit a two-out RBI double in the sixth, but Angel Pagan's run-scoring single off Salomon Torres made it 4-2 in the seventh.


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