NEW YORK -- Kris Benson wouldn't lie. Pitching against the New York Mets on Saturday night was special. Hitting the first home run of his life made it even better.
Benson celebrated his return to Shea Stadium throwing eight effective innings and retiring the last 15 batters he faced in the Baltimore Orioles' 4-2 victory over the Mets, the team that traded him away last January after he pleaded to stay in New York.
"It's great to come back and pitch well against the last team you played for, especially with all the stuff going on," Benson said.
He had suspected the Mets would be contending for a championship this season and wanted to be part of that effort. New York had other ideas, dealing him to the Orioles for pitchers Jorge Julio and John Maine. Julio has since moved on to Arizona and Maine spent six weeks on the disabled list.
"It was a baseball trade," Benson said, shrugging off the deal. "I'm having a great time in Baltimore and I'm still in baseball."
Still there was special satisfaction, especially with his third-inning home run, the first of his life and the first by a Baltimore pitcher since Roric Harrison hit one in 1972, the year before the designated hitter rule was adopted by the American League.
"Every year, they keep moving back the fences," he said, grinning. "I'm glad to make the Orioles' record book."
Manager Sam Perlozzo knew this would be an emotional start for Benson.
"I talked to him yesterday," the manager said. "He still has fond memories. He still loves New York. It means a lot for him to perform well here. He's been everything we could ask for."
The victory was Benson's sixth on the road this season for a team that has won just 13 games away from home all season. He did not allow a hit after the fourth inning and retired the last 15 hitters he faced.
"He was on," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "He threw a great ballgame. He had pretty good velocity toward the end, mixed his pitches up really well."
Benson (8-5) connected against Mets starter Pedro Martinez in the third inning.
"He's a pitcher," Martinez said. "Whenever I fall behind them (a pitcher) I'm not going to fool around. Make him hit it. The next time up he popped up to center field. Same pitch. Same location. Fastball. Eighty-five, 86 miles per hour."
Benson allowed six hits and recovered from a shaky start to pitch Baltimore to its second straight victory over New York. It assured the Orioles would take the three-game series, just the second time all season Baltimore has won a series on the road.
Chris Ray pitched the ninth for his 18th save in as many opportunities, striking out pinch-hitter Julio Franco with a runner on first.
The Orioles nicked Martinez (6-3) for an unearned run in the first. Brian Roberts opened with a single, moved up on an infield out and a passed ball and scored as second baseman Jose Valentin robbed Miguel Tejada of a base hit.
The Mets came right back in the bottom of the first when Jose Reyes opened with a double and scored as Benson threw Paul LoDuca's sacrifice bunt into right field. Lo Duca took second on the error, moved to third on an infield out and scored on a single by Carlos Delgado.
Benson pitched out a bases-loaded jam in the second and then tied the score leading off the third with his home run into the Baltimore bullpen in left field.
In the fifth, Nick Markakis opened with a single and scored on a double by Roberts, his third hit of the game. Roberts took third when Martinez threw a pickoff attempt into center field, and scored on a single by Brandon Fahey, making it 4-2.
Benson played Santa Claus at the Mets' Christmas party one month before being traded to the Orioles last January. ... The Mets signed RHP Joseph Smith, their third-round choice in the amateur draft. He will report to Class-A Brooklyn of the New York-Penn League. ... The Mets scored in the first inning for the ninth time in the last 10 games ... Markakis robbed Lo Duca of an RBI hit in the fourth with a diving catch in right field.