James pitched one-hit ball for eight neat innings, shutting down New York and leading the Atlanta Braves to a 5-0 victory Monday night.
The rookie also scored twice and got his first hit of the season. Helped by a string of strong plays in the field, he allowed only a second-inning single off the left-field fence to David Wright, who was thrown out at second on the play by Matt Diaz.
"Unbelievable. Even though it said one hit on the board, it was probably about a 12-hitter," James said. "I think everybody on the field was probably on their belly at one time today."
Adam LaRoche and Edgar Renteria each drove in two runs for the Braves, trying to stay within striking distance of the NL wild card. But they're 18½ games behind first-place New York in the NL East, leaving them virtually no chance of winning their 15th straight division title.
Atlanta took advantage of a season-high seven walks by Steve Trachsel (14-6) and gave manager Bobby Cox his 2,158th win, which moved Cox ahead of Hall of Famer Bucky Harris for fifth place on the career list.
With the Braves coming off consecutive doubleheaders in Philadelphia, James (8-3) gave most of the bullpen a rest. The 24-year-old left-hander walked three and struck out one in winning his fourth consecutive decision.
"We needed that," Cox said.
Right fielder Jeff Francoeur made a diving catch to rob Shawn Green of a hit in the fifth. Renteria also made a diving play.
James was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the ninth, denying him a chance at his first career complete game. He threw 108 pitches, 64 for strikes, in his 13th big league start.
It was a big turnaround against the Mets for James. He lasted only one inning in a July 30 start against New York, giving up a career-worst seven runs and seven hits in a 10-6 loss.
"Last time I think I was tipping a little bit. I just tried to be a little more aggressive," James said. "I wanted to come out here and throw well against them since last time they got me pretty good."
Macay McBride struck out all three batters in the ninth to finish Atlanta's fifth shutout this season. The Mets, who have one run and five hits in their past two games, were blanked for the sixth time.
Missing center fielder Carlos Beltran (bruised left knee) for the second consecutive day, New York lost for only the fourth time in 17 games overall.
"We were just off a little bit tonight," Wright said. "We haven't won anything yet. The attitude in this clubhouse is, we haven't accomplished anything."
"We have to continue to play with energy."
James' bunt single in a two-run third was his first hit this season after going 0-for-23. He scored on LaRoche's sacrifice fly after Renteria's RBI single.
Trachsel walked four in the fifth, including Brian McCann with the bases loaded -- ending the right-hander's night. LaRoche had a run-scoring single earlier in the inning to drive in James, who led off with a walk.
Still, Trachsel, who walked five in an April 30 loss at Atlanta, didn't think his command was off by that much.
"They had a very good plan, and the plan that we used probably wasn't very good," Trachsel said. "It's just one outing. I think it's more indicative of me and the Atlanta Braves than it has to do with anything else."
Renteria added an RBI double in the ninth off Roberto Hernandez.
Trachsel gave up four runs -- three earned -- and four hits in 4 1/3 innings. He also walked seven on Aug. 31, 2004, against Florida.
Trachsel was 12-1 in his previous 15 starts despite a 5.21 ERA during that stretch. He said he doesn't think he's competing for a spot in the postseason rotation.
- James also won four straight decisions from June 25 to July 16.
- James got a hit in his only at-bat last season.
- New York allowed its first unearned run in 32 games since July 29, the second-longest streak in franchise history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The team record is 38 games in 1999.
- The Mets will recall OF Lastings Milledge, LHP Dave Williams and RHP Brian Bannister from Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday, and purchase the contracts of C Kelly Stinnett and OF Ricky Ledee from the Tides. Williams is scheduled to start Tuesday night against John Smoltz. New York also will recall RHP Philip Humber from Double-A Binghamton and place RHP Steve Schmoll (right hamstring) on the 60-day disabled list.