Sid Fernandez was so sick and tired of being badgered about his weight for the last few years that he decided to do something about it last winter.

The New York Mets' left-hander shed 20 pounds and now feels he's headed for the best season of his five-year career. Fernandez, who weighs 230 pounds, took a big step towards that goal Saturday by earning his second win in as many starts, beating the Chicago Cubs 3-1."The nagging was getting to me," said Fernandez, whose best year was 1986 when he was 16-6. "I wasn't feeling very good about myself. I lost 20 pounds during the winter. Nothing drastic . . . no crash diet, or anything like that. I just ran a lot and rode the bicycle. If you don't feel good about yourself, how can you do anything?

"Now I'm going to keep it off. I have to do a lot of running. That gives me more stamina and endurance and I can go longer. I really think this could be my best season."

Fernandez, 2-0, pitched four-hit ball for eight-plus innings. He left after Ryne Sandberg opened the ninth with a single.

"I wanted him to go the distance, but when he got the single to lead off the ninth, I didn't want to have someone pop it out," Mets manager Davey Johnson said.

Roger McDowell closed with one-hit relief for his second save.

"Sid's gotten better every season. This could be his year. Today he had real good control of his breaking ball. His release from the mound is a lot quicker, too."

Fernandez started the season in the bullpen and made two relief appearances before getting a start. He made it quite clear he didn't like that role.

"I expected him to speak out," Johnson said. "It was a good sign that he spoke so freely. In the past, he would've gone into a shell and did us no good. He has matured a great deal and no longer fights himself."

Greg Maddux, 0-3, has failed to win in four starts. He gave up three runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings. Last year, Maddux was 15-3 at the All-Star break but finished 18-8.

"His problem was not driving in enough runs for us (Maddux drove in the Cubs' only run),"' Chicago manager Don Zimmer said. "Seriously, his change-up was the best it has been all season. The two walks (in the third inning when the Mets went ahead 2-1) really hurt."

Chicago went ahead in the third when Shawon Dunston walked, took third on Rick Wrona's single and scored on a groundout by Maddux.

Keith Hernandez opened the sixth with a home run. He homered Monday in Fernandez's last start, a 5-2 victory over Philadelphia.