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Gooden defeats East champs 2-1

Dwight Gooden wishes the season weren't ending so soon.

Gooden (10-13), completing the first losing season in his nine-year career, pitched a four-hitter Saturday for his second complete game in three starts. He led the Mets over the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1, ensuring that New York (72-89) will not finish last in the National League East.

"I found some consistency in my last eight starts," said Gooden, who needed just 88 pitches to beat the Pirates. "My rhythm is good, and I got consistent as I went along."

Gooden, a Tampa native who lives in St. Petersburg, struck out three and walked one. He gave up fewer hits than in any start since a two-hitter against Philadelphia on June 23, 1990.

"I want the season to keep going," he said. "I've gone longer and have been pitching much stronger since I came back."

Gooden was disabled from July 18 to Aug.

8 because of inflammation in his right shoulder _ the shoulder that underwent surgery Aug. 22, 1991.

"This was like a 20-win season for anybody else," Mets manager Jeff Torborg said. "I've never seen anybody undergo rotator-cuff surgery and throw like this his first year back."

Gooden has pitched seven or more innings in his past seven starts. The complete game gave him 202 innings for the year. His contract, which guaranteed him $4-million this season, called for a $250,000 bonus if he reached 200.