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By MARK HALE(New York Post)
Getting a runner to first base and second base was accomplished. The Mets, though, didn't advance beyond 180 feet last night.
Shut out for the second time in their past five games, the Mets came up with four hits last night and didn't get anybody past second base in a 5-0 loss to the Dodgers at Shea.
The magic number to clinch the NL East remained seven; the Phillies defeated the Marlins 3-2 last night.
Dodgers lefty Hong-Chih Kuo, a 25-year-old Taiwanese lefty, had pitched in 23 games this year, all relief outings, and posted a 5.34 ERA. Last night in his starting debut, he shut out the Mets for six innings on three hits, striking out seven.
"He's got great stuff," David Wright said. "I remember him in L.A. as a kind of a one-inning guy. The radar gun shows he's throwing the ball hard. He's got a great slider, a good idea of what he's doing up there. His ball gets some natural movement, and he worked quick and threw strikes. So you've just got to tip your cap."
Mets starter John Maine took his first loss in exactly two months (July 8), giving up four runs (two earned) in five innings. Maine surrendered six hits and three walks, giving up two solo homers in the fifth.
The Mets had won the rookie righty's previous eight starts.
"He's entitled to a bad one every once in a while," Willie Randolph said.
Maine said he "pitched terrible."
"[My] changeup hasn't been very good the last three, four starts," he said. "Slider, I don't know what happened to it, and at least my curveball had decent break on it, but I still didn't do much with them."
The Mets did less with Kuo.
In the first, Jose Reyes walked and moved to second on a groundout then was caught stealing third. Carlos Beltran walked and Carlos Delgado flied out.
In the fourth, Beltran drew a one-out walk, and Delgado hit into a double play. In the fifth, Wright opened with the first Mets hit (a single to center) and Shawn Green followed with a single. Chris Woodward struck out, and after Lastings Milledge hit into an inning-ending double play, the fans booed him. Milledge later heard more boos after grounding out in the eighth.
"I never understand why fans react the way they do, but they have a right," Randolph said.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the first, former Met Marlon Anderson hit a grounder to third. But Wright bobbled the ball then threw wide to first for a two-run error and a 2-0 Dodgers lead.
"It had a lot of spin on it," Wright said. "Marlon hit it off the end of the bat, and the ball was rolling around in my glove and I couldn't get a good grip on it and threw it . . . So it's just one of those plays."
Rafael Furcal led off the fifth with a homer to center. One out later, Nomar Garciaparra homered to left, and the next hitter, J.D. Drew, sent one to deep center. Beltran made a great catch against the wall, robbing Drew of a potential homer.