NEW YORK -- Tom Glavine's consistency has become almost uncanny. Every time the 41-year-old lefty takes the mound, he gives the Mets a chance to win -- nothing more, nothing less.

Some may find boredom in the monotony of his stat lines, but when they repeat game after game, month after month, year after year, such monotony commands a healthy dose of respect. After all, a trademark Glavine performance is always solid and rarely spectacular, but it usually is good enough to get the job done.

Only Wednesday, it wasn't.

Glavine turned in a typically solid seven innings for the Mets, but for the second straight game, he received far too little run support to make win No. 296 a reality. Instead, it was just another hard-luck loss, this time, 3-0, to the Giants -- marking the Mets' first shutout of the season.

"There's no way to make people understand what it feels like to go out there and do what you want to do and make pitches, and have bad results," Glavine said, "It's one of the probably single-most frustrating things that as a pitcher you deal with."

And it's something Glavine has now dealt with for quite some time. This time, he watched his seven innings of three-run ball turn sour. There was nothing more Glavine could do, as San Francisco's free-agent prize, Barry Zito, rendered the Mets helpless in seven scoreless innings of his own.

Perhaps most frustrating of all, there wasn't even much Glavine could have done about the three runs that sealed his fate. Two of those came in the first inning without any balls hit particularly hard, and the third came on a well-placed triple in the third.

"Chopper off home plate, blooper to center field, there's not a lot I can do," Glavine said of the first-inning rally. "Sometimes you run into bad luck."

After that, it was lights out, as Glavine hurled four more innings without incident, waiting anxiously for the vaunted Mets offense to bail him out.

It never did.

Zito wouldn't let it, in fact, as he rarely does when his curveball boasts its trademark bite. Only Paul Lo Duca seemed to have an answer for Zito, dunking in two hits to reach 1,000 for his career. But even those were useless in the grand scheme of the game, just two isolated knocks without any help.

There's no doubt Zito can be effective on his own. But sandwiched between Tuesday's starter, Tim Lincecum, and Thursday's starter, Matt Cain -- two youngsters that camp out in the upper 90s -- his wizardry reaches new heights.

"His changeup just never seems to get there," said third baseman David Wright. "His curveball was on today.

"That shows a lot. You don't have to go out there and throw 100 [mph] to get guys out."

Zito ensured that no good would come out of the batter's box on Wednesday, instead leaving the Mets scrambling to find some positives on the mound. And they did, in the form of returning reliever Guillermo Mota.

Mota, back from his 50-day suspension, worked his assigned inning so quickly that he earned himself another, finishing with two scoreless frames to his credit.

"He threw the ball great," said Mets manager Willie Randolph. "It looked like last year when he was here. He had good velocity, threw some good changeups, and we were able to stretch him out."

Also stretched out were Glavine and Zito, who both threw 122 pitches, 77 for strikes. That marked Glavine's highest pitch count since last August, with both the balmy weather and an extra day of rest contributing to his longevity.

"Beautiful night, nothing taxing about how he was going out there," Randolph said. "He didn't seem like he was even sweating."

Perhaps not from performance, but he might sweat a little at the results. Glavine remains stalled at 295 career wins, denied for the second time despite allowing just five runs combined in those two starts. Only twice in 12 starts has Glavine allowed more than three runs -- and he allowed four in both of those -- but he has just five wins to show for it.

Regardless of the result, he's been just about as steady as they come. The problem is, he's needed to be spectacular. Glavine has averaged three runs per no-decision this year, and two runs per loss. He's allowed an average of 1.8 runs in his five wins.

In three duels with buddy John Smoltz this season -- the last of which came last week -- Glavine has allowed a combined seven runs. He doesn't have a win to show for it. And sadly, that's nothing new.

He's also tackled just about every challenge that's come his way. On Wednesday, it was the looming presence of Barry Bonds in San Francisco's cleanup spot, eager to boost his .329 career average against the lefty. Glavine took care of that, ceding Bonds just one single and later lulling him into a key third-inning double play.

But, as it's gone this season, none of that seemed to matter.

"I guess I won the battle with Barry, but lost the game," Glavine said. "I'd rather have it the other way around."