NEW YORK -- Bobby Parnell got to Citi Field about three hours before his second major league start Friday night. He went over San Francisco's hitters, took some swings in the batting cage to prepare for Barry Zito and started warming up a little earlier than usual.
It looks as if this routine will work just fine.
Parnell pitched six crisp innings and the New York Mets opened an important homestand with a 3-0 victory over the Giants.
"That's huge for us because we didn't know whether or not that he could fill that particular role," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "It's a big, big boost for us in going forward."
Parnell (3-4) limited San Francisco to three singles and struck out seven, including four straight overlapping his final two innings. The right-hander, who opened the year in the bullpen, recorded just seven outs in his first start, a 3-1 loss at San Diego last Saturday.
"I think I just had a better rhythm and got a little bit of a routine behind me," Parnell said. "San Diego was kind of a learning experience for me and that's the way I took it. Today, I figured I'd probably make a little bit more of a leap and bound. I just had some good innings."
Angel Pagan connected against Zito (8-11) for New York's first leadoff homer of the season. Jeff Francoeur added a two-out RBI double in the fourth and Gary Sheffield tacked on a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
Wearing cream-colored throwback jerseys modeled after the 1905 Giants, New York bounced back from a miserable 2-5 road trip with its 10th shutout of the season. The Mets pulled within 9 1/2 games of wild card-leading Colorado with the victory and need to string together some wins during their season-long 11-game homestand to get back in the playoff race.
The Giants' best opportunity came in the eighth against Brian Stokes, when they put runners on first and second with one out. Pedro Feliciano came in and retired Eugenio Velez on a fielder's choice before Freddy Sanchez bounced to third to end the inning.
Francisco Rodriguez then pitched a perfect ninth to finish the four-hitter and record his 26th save in 31 opportunities.
"We just didn't do anything offensively," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Edgar Renteria had two hits for San Francisco, which stayed 1 1/2 back of Colorado. Zito allowed three runs and five hits in five-plus innings, ending a four-start unbeaten streak.
The Giants opened a season-long, 11-game trip with their fourth loss in five games. They are just 23-33 on the road this year, compared with 39-20 at home.
"We have to start playing on the road better," Renteria said. "We want to do it. We're going to be all right."
Pagan hit his first career leadoff homer, driving a 1-2 pitch from Zito into the seats in left. It was the first leadoff shot for the Mets since Jose Reyes connected at Atlanta on Sept. 19.
Zito didn't allow another hit until Luis Castillo's leadoff single in the fourth. Two batters later, Francoeur doubled over center fielder Aaron Rowand to give New York a 2-0 lead.
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