Mets' Perez erratic but victorious in return
Left-hander allows two runs, seven walks in five innings
NEW YORK -- It's tough to either congratulate or condemn Oliver Perez for his outing on Wednesday night.
Behind Perez, the Mets halted a four-game losing streak and won for just the third time in 12 contests with a 5-4 victory over the Dodgers. While Perez limited the Dodgers to two runs on four hits in five innings, he remained as frustratingly erratic as ever. He walked seven men, and 53 of his 108 pitches were out of the strike zone.
And so it was with selective adjectives and tepid praise that the Mets discussed Perez's return to the mound. David Wright called it "promising," catcher Brian Schneider mentioned Perez's nerves and rust and manager Jerry Manuel focused on Perez's competitiveness.
However you want to describe it, a win was a win for a team in dire need of one.
"[Nobody] wants to have a game like that," Perez said of his outing. "You have to handle that, get the important outs and get out of the inning."
Perez was able to get the important outs all night to escape several self-created jams. After walking two and allowing an RBI single in the first, Perez retired Russell Martin with runners on the corners to escape further damage.
Perez seemed to settle in by the third inning. But following a strikeout of Orlando Hudson and a flyout by Manny Ramirez, Perez lost the zone completely, walking the bases loaded. He again got out of the jam, though, by inducing a soft lineout to third by Andre Ethier.
"He kept us busy, kept our bullpen busy, kept guys up," Manuel said. "There were times where I would say he's a hitter or two away, but he battled his way out of it. He gave us an opportunity."
That's exactly what Manuel wanted from Perez before the game, saying he hoped to see his pitcher reach his pitch count -- around 100 pitches -- with his team still in the game. When Perez retired Ethier with two more on in the fifth -- both via the base on balls -- he had done just that, leaving with a 4-2 lead.
"I did everything I can," Perez said. "Sometimes you're going to have that kind of game. Starting pitching is trying to keep your team in the game."
Perez relied a lot on his slider in his first game back, eschewing the changeup he had worked on during his rehabilitation. Schneider said that, after bouncing his first changeup, Perez was hesitant to go back to it the rest of the night.
For Manuel, it was far from ideal, but it was a start. And a winning one at that.
"Going forward, hopefully he becomes somewhat comfortable and gets back into a rhythm," Manuel said. "He'll be a guy after the break that we'll have to get on some consistent basis of starts, and hopefully we can find the Ollie we had last year at this point."
Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.