Trachsel returned all right, making a triumphant season debut Friday night that showed he could play a key role as the Mets chase a playoff berth down the stretch.
Trachsel allowed two hits in eight innings in his first major-league start in nearly 11 months, leading New York to its fifth consecutive win, 1-0 over the San Francisco Giants.
"I'm not really surprised," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "I almost expected him to do what he did tonight. I know he wanted the ball and he was ready for this. ... I have seen him quite a bit in the past, and it was vintage Trachsel."
David Wright homered off Kevin Correia (2-5) for the only run for the Mets, who remained 1½ games behind wild-card leader Philadelphia. The streak has moved the Mets (68-60) eight games over .500 for the first time since their pennant-winning season of 2000.
Trachsel jumped out to a quick start, recording five of his six strikeouts in the first four innings. The Giants had only one runner in the first five innings -- a walk by Correia -- and few hard-hit balls other than Edgardo Alfonzo's one-hopper to shortstop Jose Reyes.
Trachsel, who made six rehab starts in the minors, said he tried to block out the fact that he had gone so long without facing major-leaguers.
"I tried not to think about that portion of it," he said. "I just wanted to go out there and trust myself and make my pitches. I knew if I did that the results would be good."
Alfonzo led off the eighth with an infield single deep in the hole at shortstop for the only other hit off Trachsel. With runners on first and third and two outs, Randolph stuck with Trachsel, who induced Winn to fly out to shallow center to end the inning.
"He made tons of big pitches," Giants manager Felipe Alou said. "It is hard to believe that a guy making his first start would be so sharp. You do not find a guy throwing eight innings on his first start."
Braden Looper pitched around a leadoff double to Vizquel in the ninth, getting three groundouts in a row to finish for his 27th save in 32 chances.
No team has been around as long as the Mets without throwing a no-hitter, but they have come tantalizingly close many times since their expansion year of 1962. The Mets have thrown 27 one-hitters, including Bobby Jones' gem against the Giants in the 2000 playoffs, but have never held a team hitless.
Pitchers such as Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, David Cone and Hideo Nomo all threw no-hitters after pitching for the Mets. Trachsel admitted he was thinking about that.
"I probably was when I gave up the hit," he said. "I probably shouldn't have been thinking about it."
Trachsel has two of those one-hitters, and also flirted with a no-hitter in the most important game he ever pitched, a one-game playoff win against the Giants in 1998 when he was with the Cubs. Trachsel didn't allow a hit until Brett Mayne singled with one out in the seventh and Chicago went on to win the game 5-3 to make the playoffs as the wild-card team.
This did not figure to be the night the Mets broke that 44-season drought. Trachsel had been sidelined since surgery on March 19 to repair a herniated disc in his back. Originally the Mets planned to let him work his way back as a reliever, but earlier this week Randolph said Trachsel would move right into the rotation.
That gives the Mets six starters and Trachsel stated his case for remaining one when Randolph goes back to a five-man rotation.
Trachsel received all the support he needed in the second inning. One batter after Cliff Floyd hit a drive to the deepest part of the park that was caught by Winn in front of the 421-foot sign in right-center, Wright homered deep into the left-field bleachers to make it 1-0.
"I hit that ball about as square as I can hit it," Wright said. "It was a two-seamer over the plate and I got extended."
That's all Correia allowed in eight innings. He gave up seven hits, no walks and struck out seven in the longest outing of his career.
"I gave up the home run to Wright which cost me but I've given up a few home runs," Correia said. "I'm not going to try to pitch around guys."
- San Diego (first season in 1969), Colorado (1993) and Tampa Bay (1998) are the other teams never to have a no-hitter.
- Alfonzo went 1-for-3 and has one extra-base hit in his last 97 ABs and has gone 290 at-bats since last homering April 8 against Colorado.
- The Mets won for the fourth time in 18 regular-season games at SBC Park.