St. Patrick's Day battle with Mets ends 7-7

VERO BEACH, Florida-- You could blame the wee people for snatching a win away from the New York Mets Friday night when one of them apparently deflected a shot down the first base line in the sixth that bounced off first baseman Nomar Garciaparra's shoulder and resulted in four runs. It erased a 3-2 Dodger lead and despite tieing the game in the sixth and the ninth, Los Angeles played to their third tie of the season.

On a slightly cool St. Patrick's Day evening, with both teams sporting green caps and green bases at each corner of the infield, and all-Irish crowd of 6,396 enjoyed a little of everything -- good pitching, good defense and clutch hitting -- although neither team could claim a victory.

Jeff Kent slammed his first home run of the season in the fourth inning to tie the game 2-2 and Andre Ethier tripled home two runs in the seventh to again knot the score 6-6. Then in the ninth, trailing 7-6, James Loney doubled with two out and Willie Aybar put the two teams back on even terms with a single.

Neither team could score in the tenth and the predominantly green-clad crowd went home pleased that they hadn't lost.

Brett Tomko started and, sporting an 0.90 earned run average, allowed single runs in the second and third inning. He left after working four innings, trailing 2-0.

Kent's home run followed a single by JD Drew and tied he game at two. Singles by Nomar Garciaparra and Bill Mueller, plus a walk to Jose Cruz loaded the bases but a double play spoiled a potential big inning.

Pinch-hitter Olmedo Saenz doubled to lead off the fifth and pinch-runner Jason Repko scored on a fielder's choice grounder off the bat of Kenny Lofton to give the Dodgers a 3-2 margin and their only lead of the night.

The fateful sixth saw the pesky little people help the Mets score four times, although only one of the runs was unearned.

Jonathan Broxton outmatched the Mets in the fifth, getting a foul pop to first and a pair of strikeouts. DL Houlton followed him on the mound and that's when the trouble started.

Ramon Martinez booted a ball at second base to open the inning. After a strikeout and a single, a scorching shot to Garciaparra at first base suddenly jumped up and struck him in the shoulder, bouncing away into foul territory and allowing the tying run to score.

A walk loaded the bases again and a low liner to center field skipped past Jason Repko who attempted a diving catch with three runs scoring on the play,

Garciaparra, playing only his 11th exhibition game at first base under his belt, put on a clinic in the fourth, making a backhand stop on a scorching grounder, throwing a runner out at the plate on a slow roller and then capping the performance with a diving stop and a feed to Tomko to end the inning.

The Dodgers tied the game 6-6 in the last of the seventh and left the lead run on third base. Repko walked and Oscar Robles singled sharply to right field. Martinez looped a single to left for one run and Ether slammed a long drive to the fence in right field, sliding into third base with a triple. But Joel Guzman, Loney and Aybar were unable to drive in the lead run.

Kelly Wunsch took over in the eighth and got into trouble immediately. An infield hit, another single to right and a one-out walk loaded the bases. Robles nailed the runner attempting to score on a slow grounder for the second out and manager Grady Little called for Brian Meadows.

Meadows, whose 14.14 ERA is the highest on the team, gave up a walk, pushing the lead run over the plate.

With two out in the bottom of the ninth, Loney whacked his sixth double of the season into left center, boosting his average to .407 and putting the tying run on base. Aybar's one-base shot to right made it 7-7.

Loney deeked the Mets into a double play in the top of the tenth after an opening single off Willie Juarez. An attempted sacrifice bunt was popped up down the first base line. Loney faked a catch and then let it drop, throwing to Martinez at first to get the batter and the relay to Robles caught the baserunner in a rundown.

Repko gave what was left of the crowd a brief thrill in the bottom of the tenth when he drove a fastball deep into the night only to have it caught at the deepest part of the park.

If they could have only controlled those little fellows.
Dodgers              ab r h bi ave
O'Furcal ss           3 0 0 0 .000
  McRobles ss         2 1 1 0 .296
McLofton cf           3 0 0 1 .150
  McMartinez 2b       2 1 1 1 .375
McDrew rf             2 0 1 2 .391
  ##O'Ethier pr-rf    3 1 1 2 .238
McKent 2b             3 1 1 2 .312
  O'Houlton p         0 0 0 0 .000
  **O'Guzman ph       1 0 0 0 .303
  McWunsch p          0 0 0 0 .000
  McMeadows p         0 0 0 0 .000
  O'Baez p            0 0 0 0 .000
  *McYoung ph         1 0 0 0 .148
  McJuarez p          0 0 0 0 .000
O'Garciaparra 1b      2 0 1 0 .194
  #McLoney 1b         2 1 1 0 .407
McMiller 3b           3 0 1 0 .308
  &O'Aybar ph-3b      2 0 1 1 .188
McCruz lf             0 0 0 0 .333
  O'Kemp lf           2 0 0 0 .129
McMartin c            3 0 0 0 .318
  McBorders c         2 0 0 0 .250
O'Tomko p             0 0 0 0 .000
  McBroxton p         0 0 0 0 .000
  %Saenz ph           1 0 1 0 .143
  +Repko pr-cf        2 2 0 0 .310
  Totals            40 7 10 7 .254
  New York          37 7  9 7 .296

Galway Mets    011 004 010 0-7
Dublin Dodgers 000 210 301 0-7

  %Doubled for Broxton in fifth. 
**Popped out for Houlton in seventh. 
&Popped out for Mueller in seventh. 
*Struck out for Baez in ninth. 
##Ran for Drew in fourth. 
#Ran for Garciapara in sixth.
  Errors- Martin, Martinez. 2b hits- 
Saenz (1), Loney (6). 3b hits- 
Ethier (1). HR- Kent (2). LOB- 
Mets 10, Dodgers 9. DP- Mets 1, 
Dodgers 1 (Loney, Martnez, Robles). 
SB-Kemp (2). Mets 1.

Dodgers        in h r-erbb so era
O'Tomko       4.0 3  2-2 2 3  1.93
McBroxton     1.0 0  0-0 0 2  8.31
O'Houlton     2.0 3  4-3 2 2  7.71
McWunsch      0.2 2  1-1 1 0  7.71
McMeadows     0.1 0  0-0 1 0 13.50
O'Baez        1.0 0  0-0 1 0  2.57
McJuarez      1.0 1  0-0 1 0  0.00
  WP- Mets 2. T- 3:35.  Attendance- 6,396.
Happy Birthday-- Bill Mueller (35), Willard Hunter (72), Geronimo Berroa (42), Robert Clark (1863-1919), Johnny Cooney (1901-1986).

Dodger Green Notes-- Grady Little corrected the assumption that Garciaparra might play some left field when he stated that he would be only a first baseman. …Catcher Dioner Navarro's pulled hamstring will likely sideline hin for 10-14 days. …The Dodgers sent 3B Andy LaRoche and LHP Greg Miller to minor league camp. That still leaves 45 men on the rosters. …Former Dodger GM Keven Malone made his first visit to Dodgertown since being fired early in the 2001 season. He reported he didn't think he would work again in baseball. …Brett Tomko's jersey #35 was retired by Florida Southern College March 15. Tomko was the Dick Howser Award winnger as the American Baseball Coaches Assocition Division II Player of the year, striking out 152 in 126.1 innings to lead the Mocs o a NCAA Division Championship with a 15-2 record. …Former Dodger outfielder Tom Godwin will join Rick Monday in the Dodger radio booth this week-end, following Steve Yeager and Jerry Reuss. Godwin played in Los Angeles in 1991-93 and 200-2001.