Mets thump Nomo in 9-5 loss

On a night that former Dodgers came back to haunt their old club, the disastrous trade of Mike Piazza remains the main ghost in the attic. Fans wonder what would have happened had the club signed him, an action that former Dodger GM Fred Claire thought was quite possible, before a Fox executive had his pocket picked by the Florida Marlins.

Then, too, his big bat keeps reminding us of the trade. Piazza did it again Tuesday night, banging a solo home run, his 351st career shot, to break a 4-3 tie and deadlocking him with Carlton Fisk for the most by a catcher in major-league history. Piazza also moved into 58th place on the career homer list, one ahead of Joe DiMaggio, on a night the Mets had 13 hits and collected a 9-5 win.

Cesar Izturis extended his career-high hitting streak to 14 games and had three hits. Milton Bradley also contributed three hits, and Jose Hernandez continued weighed with his first homer as a Dodger in a 14-hit attack.

But Hideo Nomo (3-2), still recovering from off-season shoulder surgery, struggled again and the bullpen self-destructed, allowing eight hits and five earned runs. Through five starts, Nomo's 10th major-league season continues to be a puzzle. By giving up four runs on five hits, he actually lowered his ERA to 6.43.

Nomo failed to pitch into the seventh inning for the fifth time this season. He allowed three homers, five hits and four earned runs in six innings. He allowed 24 homers in 218.1 innings last season and has already given up nine homers in only 28 innings. Tuesday, his fastball rarely moved the radar gun past 84 mph.

Adding to the problem, the Dodger bullpen, which came into the game with the lowest ERA in the Major Leagues (2.02), allowed five runs in three innings. They had a 20-inning scoreless streak but remain the only bullpen in the National League without a loss is due only to the fact the Dodgers already were behind when Nomo left.

Guillermo Mota came in trailing by a run and gave up two runs, his first runs this season, although he has also allowed 16 base runners in 8.1 innings. Brian Falkenborg, Darren Dreifort and Tom Martin were also charged with runs.

Izturis started the first-inning rally with a single extending his hitting streak to a career-high 14 games. Bradley singled Izturis to second, and he scored on Shawn Green's single up the middle. Bradley, still limping from an ankle sprain suffered last week in Colorado, was unable to score on Paul Lo Duca's single. Juan Encarnacion and Adrian Beltré both left the bases loaded.

Nomo walked former Dodger Karim Garcia on four pitches leading off the second inning, then grooved an 84-mph fastball that Shane Spencer banged into the right-field pavilion.

One out later, another former Dodger Zeile turned on an 83 mph fastball and lined it into the left-field box seats next to the Dodger bullpen.

Nomo's one-out single was cashed in by Dave Roberts' triple and Izturis tied the game by cracking a single past the first baseman into right field to score Roberts and tie the game 3-3.

Piazza broke the tie with one out in the sixth inning on the first pitch.

The Mets scored two runs off Mota in the top of the seventh. The Dodgers got one run back in the bottom of the inning on a Bradley double and a two-out bloop single by Encarnacion.

New York scored again in the eighth off Falkenborg, who was making his first Major League appearance in five years, and twice more in the ninth.

The Dodgers (12-7) saw their lead in the National League West trimmed to a game over San Diego, which won at home over Montreal. It is the Dodgers' smallest margin since April 15.

Dodger Blue Notes--Manager Jim Tracy said he will stick with 12 pitchers indefinitely. The Dodgers called up pitcher Brian Falkenborg to replace Chin-Feng Chen over the weekend. Until Ishii's complete-game shutout Sunday, relievers Darren Dreifort, Tom Martin, Duaner Sanchez, Guillermo Mota and Eric Gagné were on pace for at least 75 appearances each. Jose Lima, Saturday's scheduled starter, also will be available for bullpen use Tuesday and Wednesday, giving the Dodgers eight relievers. ...Jayson Werth, out three weeks with a pulled oblique muscle, is seeing some improvement. Werth said he might start swinging a bat later this week, but he also expects to need a rehabilitation assignment before he returns to action.

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