Steve Avery found a new way to pitch in his ninth major league season. It may salvage his career.
Throwing from more of a sidearm angle than over the top, Avery had his best start in two seasons with Boston, allowing three hits over seven innings as the Red Sox beat the suddenly punchless New York Mets 5-0 Sunday night.
"I want to win no matter how I can," said Avery (3-1), who has struggled making the transition from a power thrower to a finesse pitcher. "Right now this is obviously the best way I can go out and help this team."
Avery, one of baseball's best lefthanders with Atlanta in the early 1990s, was 6-7 with a 6.42 ERA for Boston last season and was sent to the minors in late April. He was recalled May 16 but waited until last Tuesday in Toronto to try the new motion.
He got the victory then despite walking six in five innings. On Sunday, he struck out four, walked one and worked out of two jams by striking out the final batter as he lowered his ERA from 6.41 to 4.72.
"The new motion adds some movement (to the ball) and that's something I've never had," he said after his second impressive start in the four he's made since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket. "It helps your mentality to go out there and feel good about what you're doing."
After hitting four homers off Pedro Martinez in a 9-2 win Friday night, the Mets managed only two hits Saturday but still won 1-0 with the only run scoring on Tim Wakefield's sixth-inning balk
On Sunday they got just four hits as Rich Garces wrapped up the win by allowing one hit in two innings.
"We're not happy," Mets outfielder Butch Huskey said. "We should have won (Sunday). We had a chance, but (Avery) made the pitches when he had to. We tried to get something started. We just couldn't finish it."
Masato Yoshii (4-2) kept pace with Avery early, allowing one walk and no hits through the first nine batters. But the next six all reached base, two on hits that just made it through the middle, as the Red Sox took a 4-0 lead in the third.
"He just didn't have luck on his side," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. "We didn't hit the ball well. We were sluggish."
The Red Sox crammed all their hits into two innings, getting five in the four-run third and three when they got their other run in the fifth.
With two outs in the third, Darren Lewis singled for Boston's first hit. He stole second and scored on Reggie Jefferson's single. Nomar Garciaparra, mired in a 1-for-17 slump, then doubled Jefferson to third. A walk to Mo Vaughn loaded the bases.
Troy O'Leary then singled up the middle, driving in two runs, and John Valentin doubled in another for a 4-0 lead.
Yoshii retired the side in order in the fourth but allowed a tw-out homer by Vaughn, his 18th, in the fifth.
Avery began his comeback with a win against Kansas City in which he allowed no runs and three hits in five innings. But he lost his next start against Toronto, giving up five runs in four innings. Then, using his new motion on about half his pitches, he beat the Blue Jays.
He used it on about 75 percent of his pitches Sunday, Red Sox pitching coach Joe Kerrigan said.
"You'd like to think he's a good enough athlete to where he could make adjustments," Kerrigan added.
Avery retired the first nine batters before Brian McRae started the fourth with a triple. McRae stayed at third on Edgardo Alfonzo's infield single, but the Mets failed to capitalize.
McRae didn't try to score on Bernard Gilkey's fly to Darren Bragg in medium right field. John Olerud then struck out and Alfonzo was thrown out trying to steal second.
"It was a pretty good situation. I just didn't get the job done," Olerud said. "He moved the ball in and out real well."
Avery worked out of another jam in the seventh when first baseman Vaughn's error and Huskey's single put runners at first and second with one out. But Carlos Baerga flied to right and Jim Tatum struck out.
Notes: Mets catcher Mike Piazza missed his second straight game with a bruised left hand after being hit by a pitch from Martinez in the first inning Friday night. ... Yoshii had won his last three decisions and hadn't lost since April 25, a stretch of six starts. ... Avery improved to 6-4 with a 2.19 ERA in his career against New York. ... The teams are 3-3 against each other in two years of interleague play. Boston took two of three at Shea Stadium last season. ... The Mets' designated hitters were 0-for-11 in the series. ... The Red Sox won for only the second time at Fenway Park in their last nine games.
©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed