As the velocity has waned on Hideo Nomo's fastball, the right-hander has compensated with improved control and deception.
Nomo, returning to the park where he made his major-league debut in 1995 and in which he came within five outs of a perfect game later that season, had the Giants swinging wildly throughout the game.
"If you can pitch better, I'd like to see it because that's as good as it gets -- an explosive fastball, a devastating splitter," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. "He looked like exactly the guy we needed. I couldn't ask for more, he was just fabulous."
Giants manager Dusty Baker said Nomo, who is 5-2 with a 1.95 ERA in eight career starts against the Giants, doesn't throw nearly as hard as he used to -- but is more effective as a pitcher.
"He kind of tricked us today. We were looking for his fastball and he was fooling us with off-speed stuff," Baker said. "He kind of had us eating out of his hand."
Nomo (6-11) did not allow a runner until Jeff Kent led off the fifth with a soft single to left. He struck out Barry Bonds three times, whiffed the side in the third inning, and walked only two.
| New York's Hideo Nomo pitched his third complete game of the season to lead the Mets past the Giants 4-1 on Thursday. (AP) |
"Stuff-wise, he may not have that pure velocity on his pitches, but what makes him effective is control on his pitches," said Mets catcher Mike Piazza, who also was Nomo's catcher in Los Angeles. "That's what he did today."
Nomo, who had lost his previous three starts and failed to last more than five innings in any of them, got his third complete game of the year. The other two came for the Dodgers, who traded him to New York in early May.
"I'm pitching the same way that I always have," Nomo said through an interpreter. "The only thing different is the team is getting me some runs."
Lenny Harris led off the game with a homer off Orel Hershiser (9-9) and Brian McRae had a pair of RBI singles for the Mets, who broke a three-game losing streak. The other New York run scored on a wild pitch. McRae went 3-for-4, with three singles.
Harris has hit all three of his homers this season in the past nine days. He was obtained by the Mets from Cincinnati on July 3.
The victory allowed the Mets to stay a game ahead of the Chicago Cubs, who won 9-2 at Cincinnati, in the wild-card standings. The Giants fell two games behind the Mets.
San Francisco had pulled within a game of New York by rallying from an early three-run deficit for a 7-3 win Tuesday night over the Mets. It was the Giants' fourth straight victory.
Hershiser allowed four runs on eight hits in six innings. Joe Carter had a sacrifice fly in the fifth for San Francisco.
© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved