LOS ANGELES -- Jae Seo is pitching so well right now, Steve Trachsel might have to find another starter to knock out of the New York Mets' rotation when he returns.
Seo pitched eight sharp innings Saturday and the Mets got consecutive home runs from backup catcher Ramon Castro and emergency center fielder Gerald Williams in a 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Trachsel is expected to come off the disabled list this week after making five minor league rehabilitation starts. The right-hander has yet to pitch for the Mets this season after having back surgery in March.
Manager Willie Randolph insisted after the game that this outing wouldn't make or break Seo's chances of starting again in five days.
"I never thought about whether he would be in or out. It wasn't an issue for me," Randolph said. "That's stuff you guys talk about, so don't assume anything. I wasn't clouding my mind with Trachsel. He's not here right now. Jae Seo stepped up again and did an outstanding job for us. Even if he didn't pitch well, he still was going to get the ball from me next time."
Seo didn't know that, because Randolph didn't let him know. That way, the right-hander was able to focus on his own pitching instead of peripheral issues.
"I know that Trachsel's coming back, but that wasn't on my mind today when I took the mound," Seo said through a translator. "My main goal was to help my team win and pitch the best game I could. Willie hasn't mentioned anything to me at this point, but I'm not concerned about that. It's his decision to make, and I'll accept whatever the decision is."
Seo (4-1) allowed five hits and struck out six, lowering his ERA to 1.35 in five starts with New York this season. The right-hander's streak of 20 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings -- the longest by any Mets pitcher this year -- ended when Olmedo Saenz hit an RBI double in the seventh.
"Last year I think most of the hitters knew I only threw a fastball and a changeup," Seo said. "Just adding a cutter and a splitter this year, it's helping my pitching and confusing the batters."
D.J. Houlton (4-6) retired his first two batters in the second before Castro drove a 1-2 pitch to left-center for his fourth homer.
Williams went the other way with the right-hander's next delivery and sliced it into the lower seats in the right-field corner for his first RBI this season. It was only his 14th at-bat since he was promoted from Triple-A Norfolk on June 21. Williams came within inches of a two-run homer his next time up, but just missed hitting the left-field pole.
Williams made his second straight start in place of Carlos Beltran, who was back at the team's hotel two days after his violent, head-to-head collision with right fielder Mike Cameron in San Diego. Cameron was at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, Calif., recovering from successful surgery Friday night to repair a broken nose and two fractured cheekbones.
Houlton allowed three runs -- two earned -- and six hits in six innings. The rookie is 0-5 in six starts since beating San Diego 5-4 on June 27.
Batterymate Jason Phillips, acquired from the Mets on March 20 for pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii, started behind the plate for the first time since July 27 -- the night Cincinnati's Ryan Freel stole five bases against him.
The Mets, who had five steals against Phillips just four days before that game, got four on Saturday and increased their NL-leading total to 112.
Phillips declined interview requests after the game. But at the beginning of this three-game series, he said he regretted not taking full advantage of the opportunity the Mets gave him last season when they shifted All-Star catcher Mike Piazza to first base.
"One of the biggest lessons I learned playing in New York is that you have to do the job," Phillips said. "If you don't, they'll find somebody else. On a personal level, I've seen the penthouse and I've seen the outhouse. I had good and bad experiences there. It's all part of the journey.
"They gave me an ample opportunity to be the catcher there, but I didn't hold up my end of the bargain offensively," Phillips added. "I was real surprised they traded me, actually, because they also traded Vance Wilson. But they also had brought in a good catcher in Ramon Castro, who's proven that he can play in the major leagues."
Jose Reyes swiped two bases and put himself one shy of the club record for a shortstop, set by Frank Taveras with 42 in 1979. Reyes' speed apparently flustered Dodgers Gold Glove shortstop Cesar Izturis, who twice committed fielding errors on grounders by the Mets' shortstop.
A ceremonial first pitch was thrown by 12-year-old Katie Brownell, who threw a perfect game on May 14 and struck out all 18 batters while pitching for her Little League team. She is the only girl in the Oakfield-Alabama Little League program, which is located between Buffalo, N.Y. and Rochester. ... Dodgers 1B Hee-Seop Choi, a high school teammate of Seo's in South Korea, did not start despite his four hits in 11 career at-bats against his countryman. Choi pinch-hit in the sixth and struck out.