Jeremy Hefner couldn't get his previous start out of his head.
Facing Philadelphia on Sept. 20, the starter did not record an out and was tagged for seven runs while getting pulled in the first inning in an eventual 16-1 drubbing. The past six days had him thinking constantly about the nightmare outing and all his failures that night.
Wednesday, he helped himself dispel that memory.
Hefner bounced back from the worst start of his career with his best outing of the year as he threw seven scoreless innings in a 6-0 win over Pittsburgh. He gave up just three hits and struck out seven as he recorded his first victory since Aug. 4.
"You could say you try to forget about that, you try to turn the page quickly, but that was tough to swallow," Hefner said. "Just tried to do my best again and it worked out. Tried to pick up the bullpen -- they picked me up last time, I picked them up tonight. Wish I could have thrown a complete game, but seven strong is pretty good."
Hefner was efficient and worked quickly against Pittsburgh as he kept them from threatening. He said the key was to throw a strike during his first two pitches and then work from there. He improved to 3-7 with the win, although his ERA is still just 5.32.
The starter was also pleased to pitch deep into the game, saying he planned to give the team length whether he was putting up zeroes or giving up runs. His success came on a night when he wasn't going to have support from the 'pen, as manager Terry Collins planned to give the top relievers in the bullpen the night off to get ready for R.A. Dickey's quest for 20 wins Thursday.
"We were going to make sure that tomorrow that we had our main guys ready for R.A.'s game," Collins said.
FRANK SORE: Closer Frank Francisco did not play catch, as planned, before the game. The closer is likely done for the season as he battles elbow tendinitis as he has not pitched since Sept. 16.
"He just doesn't feel real good," Collins said. "He just said it's still tight and still aches so he didn't throw today."
Collins said he used Familia on Wednesday because he will be making that start next week and stressed that it will be important for the youngster to develop a secondary pitch as he moves forward.
"I think he knows he's got a great arm, he knows he has good stuff but he had an up and down season," Collins said. "There were some games he was very good, and some games he had a tough time. He knows one thing, he has to learn but we see the stuff, you guys see the stuff, it's lights-out stuff."