Lugo delivers solid outing in first Major League start

Lugo delivers solid outing in first Major League start

SAN FRANCISCO -- With Seth Lugo filling in for an injured Steven Matz, manager Terry Collins' initial hope was that the rookie would give the Mets five innings and the club would "piece it together after that."

Lugo proved to be far more effective Friday night, tossing 6 2/3 solid innings while allowing three runs in New York's 8-1 loss to the Giants at AT&T Park.

The Mets manager described the rookie's outing as "tremendous."

"He got to the seventh inning and did a great job," said Collins.

Lugo has been utilized as a relief pitcher since making his Major League debut July 1. He entered his first big league start with a 2.65 ERA in nine appearances this season. He hadn't pitched more than three innings in a Major League game, but efficiently worked through almost seven Friday.

Lugo threw just 69 pitches, admitting he's never been that "efficient pitch count-wise in my career."

"I didn't want to walk anybody, I just wanted to fill up the strike zone as much as I could," said Lugo, who threw 47 pitches for strikes. "I was pleased with that."

Lugo was primed to finish his outing after allowing just one run. But he surrendered a two-out double to Eduardo Nunez and was replaced by Jerry Blevins after intentionally walking Joe Panik. Blevins then yielded consecutive RBI base hits, with both runs being charged to Lugo.

Regardless, the rookie clearly showed he's capable of serving as a starter if Matz's shoulder injury lingers -- a role that Lugo is more than willing to fill.

"It was a lot of fun," said Lugo.

Bruce 'really pressing'

After Jay Bruce went hitless Friday night, Collins said he would receive a day off Saturday. The recently acquired outfielder has yet to find his timing at the plate since joining New York and is batting .176 in 17 games.

"He's really pressing," said Collins. "It comes with the territory when you're a star and you come to a new team."

Bruce admitted his performance has been "frustrating" recently. However, the nine-year veteran notes there are about 40 games left in the season for him to reverse his slump.

"I'm very confident that this will pass," said Bruce. "I'm still feeling good up there."

Justin Wise is a reporter for MLB.com and covered the Mets on Friday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.