NEW YORK (AP) — Through all the tough setbacks, both on and off the field, Chris Capuano kept thinking there was still plenty of life left in that beaten-up left arm.
Count the Atlanta Braves among his believers.
Capuano pitched his best game ever, tossing a two-hitter and striking out a career-high 13 as the New York Mets blanked the Braves 6-0 Friday night in their final matchup before taking a break because of Hurricane Irene.
With the fans standing, Capuano fanned Michael Bourn for the fourth time to end it. He then gave a quick fist pump, satisfaction for a former All-Star slowed by two Tommy John surgeries.
“It was exhilarating to get that last out,” Capuano said.
That’ll be the last pitch anyone throws at Citi Field this weekend as the storm approaches.
New flood gates were put in place outside the ballpark as a precaution, but Major League Baseball took no chances. The Braves-Mets games on Saturday and Sunday were postponed, to be made up as a doubleheader on Sept. 8.
“I’m going to head inland a little bit and head to higher ground,” Capuano said.
Some of the Mets had talked about staying inside Citi Field and riding out the storm. The team decided against that idea, and instead will find hotel rooms for any players who want them. The Braves, meanwhile, are off until hosting Washington on Tuesday night.
The shutdown comes right after the Mets, at last, won the opener of a homestand. They had been 0-10 in those games this year, a big league record for the start of a season. The Mets had lost their last five at home overall.
Justin Turner and Lucas Duda each hit two-run doubles and Nick Evans and Josh Thole had RBI singles. Thole’s wife is from upstate New York, near Binghamton, and the Mets catcher and pitcher Dillon Gee planned to drive there to ride out the storm, expected to hit this weekend.
Capuano (10-11) slowed down the NL wild-card leaders and handed them their second loss in nine games. He retired the first 12 hitters — many of them on terrible swings — didn’t walk anyone all night and faced just one batter over the minimum.
Capuano threw 122 pitches in the first complete game of the season for the Mets. His pitch count was displayed on an auxiliary scoreboard, not that he noticed.
“I purposely kept not looking,” he said. “I didn’t want to know.”
Mets manager Terry Collins said he thought Capuano deserved a chance at the shutout in the ninth inning, adding, “If someone got on, he was done.”
An All-Star in 2006 with Milwaukee, the 33-year-old Capuano pitched the third shutout and fourth complete game of his career — the others came long ago, in his All-Star season. This was his 150th start as a big leaguer.
Capuano did not allow a runner until Dan Uggla grounded a shattered-bat single through the left side leading off the fifth. Freddie Freeman followed by bouncing into a double play. Atlanta’s only other runner came in the eighth when David Ross doubled with two outs.
“He’s battled and battled these last couple of years and worked his butt off to get back to this point,” Uggla said. “I heard that he had some rough outings the last four or five starts, but sometimes you’ve got to go through that to find it again.”
“They say it’s going to get worse before it gets better. But he looked great, like the Capuano I saw when I first came into the league,” he said.
Tim Hudson (13-8) lost to the Mets for the third time this year. He’s beaten them 14 times, his highest win total against any opponent.
Hudson had gone at least seven innings in nine straight starts, but the Mets tagged him for 11 hits — the most he had allowed since 2008 — in 6 1-3 innings.
Ruben Tejada had three hits and scored on Evans’ two-out single in the fifth to break a scoreless tie. Thole followed with his RBI single.
Hudson left with two runners on in the seventh. After reliever George Sherrill retired Thole on a flyball, Turner doubled off Scott Linebrink for a 4-0 lead.
Duda had three hits, including his two-run double off Jonny Venters in the eighth.
NOTES: Venters had gone 24 straight appearances without allowing a run, spanning 22 2-3 innings. This was his majors-leading 71st appearance. … Mets LF Jason Bay was scratched because of a jammed right shoulder. … SS Jose Reyes (hamstring) is expected to rejoin the Mets on Monday. Collins said he’d try to give Reyes more rest in the future, hoping to limit injuries. “Next summer, I think he’s going to be here,” Collins said of the free agent-to-be. Reyes homered in going 1 for 3 Friday night in his second rehabilitation game at Double-A Binghamton, and played seven innings in the field.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)