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Steven Matz breezes to 2-0 start despite recent lat stiffness

LOS ANGELES -- Rookie left-hander Steven Matz is off to a brilliant start to his career.

In his second major league game, Matz tossed six scoreless innings, as the New York Mets beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-0 in Sunday’s rubber game.

Matz became the fifth pitcher in franchise history to earn a win in each of his first two major league appearances. He joined Dick Selma (1965), Gary Gentry ('69), Roger McDowell ('85) and Mike Pelfrey (2006).

Matz also drove in another run, giving him five career RBIs.

Matz allowed two hits, two walks and hit a batter.

“This guy has got outstanding stuff. You saw it today,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “He’s got three ‘plus’ pitches. He throws strikes. He doesn’t beat himself. He’s a great athlete. He fields his position. He handles the bat. He’s going to be really good.”

Matz dealt with stiffness in his lat, near his left arm pit, after possibly overthrowing in his debut a week earlier. He showed no ill effects against the Dodgers, though, while striking out eight batters in a 101-pitch effort.

“After his last start, he was a little stiffer than we liked,” Collins said. “[Pitching coach Dan Warthen] had him throw between starts and he had a little stiffness still. So we said the other day we’re going to have to back him down tonight. So we said about 100 pitches, and that’s where he got us to. … He’s fine, as you saw. That’s what that first start does to you -- all of that adrenaline and trying to overthrow a little bit.”

Said Matz: “I got my treatment and stuff. It was just a little tight. Once I got out there, it was feeling good. And it still feels good now.”

Matz said he was working too quickly early on against the Dodgers, rushing his delivery. He hit Adrian Gonzalez in the first inning and went to three-ball counts to the first three batters of the second inning. At one point, third baseman Daniel Murphy came to the mound to slow him down.

Matz’s best pitch was his fastball, which sat at 94 mph. He was able to work the fastball up in the zone late in counts. Matz described his curveball as “so-so,” yet he used it to strike out Yasiel Puig and complete his outing.

On hitting Gonzalez on the right hand, which eventually forced the cleanup hitter from the game, Matz said: “I really wanted to throw down and away, but I was kind of rushed a little bit. I was worrying about the runner on first a little too much and tried to be too quick and my arm dragged a little bit.”

As for his success through two starts, which includes a pair of wins and a 1.32 ERA, Matz added: “It’s been a lot of fun. It’s been great. It’s been a good learning experience so far. I’m going to keep on learning and try to get better.”