A Second Rookie Left-Hander Stops the Mets

The last thing the Dodgers expected when the sent rookie lefthander Eric Stults to the mound in his first major league start against New York was a laugher, but that is what they got, scoring nine times on 14 hits while Stults limited the Mets to a single run on a pair of hits over six innings and the L.A. bullpen threw three zeros the final three innings to wrap it up.

A pair of veterans, Kenny Lofton and Nomar Garciaparra, led the awakened batting attack, Lofton slugging a bases-loaded triple in the third and Garciaparra knocking him in with a single to complete a four-run inning, then banging a three-run homer in the sixth to put the game away.

Mets' starter Steve Trachsel (14-7) lost his second straight start after going 12-1 in an 18-start stretch from May 23 through Aug. 29.

Stults, pitching in place of Mark Hendrickson who has had his troubles, was as strong as Hong-Chih Kuo was in the second game of the series, although he fell a bit short in the strikeout department, fanning four to Kou's seven.

The 26-year-old gave up a first inning single to Endy Chavez, then erased him on a double play. He then held the next 14 in succession without a hit, although he walked two.

The left-hander was 10-11 with a 4.23 ERA this season at Las Vegas, and allowed three runs and five hits over three innings in his major league debut Tuesday at Milwaukee.

He allowed his second -- and final -- hit with two out in the sixth, a booming shot over the center field wall by Jose Reyes. Unshaken, he retired the final Met on his 86th pitch of the game and turned it over to the bullpen.

Elmer Dessens, Mark Hendrickson and Aaron Sele throttled the Mets over the final three innings, although Dessens had to work out of a two-out, bases-loaded mess in the seventh after a single and a couple walks.

The Dodgers scored four in the third inning, and nearly had even more. Wilson Betemit and Russell Martin singled to lead the inning off and after Stults fanned, Rafael Furcal singled to load the bases.

Lofton, who had been 0-for-6 with the bases full this year, slugged a shot into the right field corner that cleared them quickly and moments later he scored from third on Garciaparra's sharp single. J.D. Drew and Marlon Anderson walked to load the bases again but Betemit, on his second at-bat of the inning, bounced out.

Martin singled to open the fourth and stole second base, his 10th of the year. In doing so, he became only the second Los Angeles catcher to reach double figures in steals and the first since Johnny Roseboro stole an L.A. record 12 in 1962. Roseboro also had 11 in 1958.

Martin also moved into the sixth spot, all-time, on the Dodger charts, trailing franchise leader Lew Ritter who pilfered 16 in both 1904 and 1905, Roseboro with 12, Otto Miller with 11 in 1912, and Roseboro tied for fifth. Martin joined Al Lopez (1933) and Mickey Owen (1942) with ten each.
Catcher's stolen bases:

  All-time
year                 sb 
1904 Lew Ritter      16
1905 Lew Ritter      16
1962 Johnny Roseboro 12
1912 Otto Miller     11
1958 Johnny Roseboro 11

2006 Russell Martin  10
1933 Al Lopez        10
1942 Mickey Owen     10
1903 Lew Ritter       9
1952 Roy Campanella   8

1901 Duke Farrell     7
1904 Fred Jacklitsch  7
1913 Otto Miller      7
1959 Johnny Roseboro  7
1960 Johnny Roseboro  7
1963 Johnny Roseboro  7
1987 Mike Scioscia    7

  Los Angeles
year                 sb
1962 Johnny Roseboro 12
1958 Johnny Roseboro 11
2006 Russell Martin  10
1959 Johnny Roseboro  7
1960 Johnny Roseboro  7
1963 Johnny Roseboro  7
1987 Mike Scioscia    7

1961 Johnny Roseboro  6
1958 Joe Pignatano    4
1991 Mike Scioscia    4
1991 Mike Scioscia    4
  25 with three each
Martin scored from second on Betemit's single and the third-baseman stole his 34th of the season but was left on base.

Leading 5-0, Jeff Kent tripled to lead off the fifth and scored on Betemit's sacrifice fly. Stults got his first major league hit, a single, to lead off the sixth and Furcal singled for his third hit of the day before Garciaparra pounded his second home run of the series and his 17th of the year.

Manager Grady Little made wholesale changes in the Dodger lineup over the final three innings, replacing every starter except Betemit.

The Dodgers, who began the day with a 1 1/2 -game lead over second-place San Diego in the NL West, boosted their lead to a full two-games pending the San Diego-San Francisco game later in the day.

Despite the loss, the Mets' magic number for clinching their first NL East title since 1988 was trimmed to four when Philadelphia lost to Florida. A crowd of 48,760 raised New York's home attendance to 3,040,920, only its third time over 3 million and the first since 1988.
  Score by innings
Dodgers  004 113 000-9
Mets     000 001 000-1

  Dodgers      ab r h bi ave
Furcal ss       4 2 3 1 .297
 Martinez ph-2b 1 0 0 0 .284
Lofton cf       4 1 1 3 .305
 Kemp cf        1 0 0 0 .266
Garciaparra 1b  3 1 2 4 .309
 Loney 1b       1 0 1 0 .284
Drew rf         3 0 1 0 .277
 Repko rf       1 0 0 0 .252
Kent 2b         4 1 1 0 .277
 Lugo 2b-ss     1 0 0 0 .216
Anderson lf     3 0 0 0 .275
 Young lf       1 0 0 0 .000
Betemit 3b      4 1 1 1 .273
Martin c        2 2 1 0 .291
 Hall ph-c      2 0 1 0 .360
Stults p        2 1 1 0 .500
 Saenz ph       1 0 1 0 .291
 Dessens p      0 0 0 0 .000
 Hendrickson p  0 0 0 0 .000
 Robles ph      1 0 0 0 .179
 Sele p         0 0 0 0 .192
    Totals     39 9 14 9
    Mets       25 1 3 1

  3B - K Lofton (10); J Kent (3). 
HR - Garciaparra (17). S - E Stults. 
SF - W Betemit. RBI - Lofton 3 (36), 
Garciaparra 4 (80), Furcal (55), 
Betemit (47).  SB - Martin (10), 
Furcal (34 Duca). DP - 2 (Betemit, 
Kent and Garciaparra 2).
 
  Dodgers   in h r-er bb so era
Stults      6.0 2 1-1 2 3 4.00
Dessens     1.0 1 0-0 2 2 3.72
Hendrickson 1.0 0 0-0 0 0 5.16
Sele        1.0 0 0-0 0 1 4.48
  Att- 48,769. T-2:50.
Billingsley Back?-- Chad Billingsley threw a 75-pitch bullpen session before Sunday's game and announced he had no effects from the strained oblique muscle that has sidelined him since Aug. 27. He will throw a simulated game in Chicago on Tuesday, and then start Saturday at Dodger Stadium against the San Diego Padres. Hong-Chih Kuo will start again on Thursday in the series finale at Wrigley Field, allowing Greg Maddux and extra day off and he will pitch the opener against the Padres on Friday night in Los Angeles.

Chicago Next-- The Dodgers have a day off on Monday and open a three-game series with the Cubs at Wrigley Field with Derek Lowe (14-8, 3.64) opposing Sean Marshall (5-9, 5.27).

Dodger Blue Notes-- In on-field pregame ceremonies, the Mets commemorated Monday's fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks with a tribute that included representatives from the six public service departments that suffered fatalities. The Mets wore caps representing those departments. …Andre Ethier was not in the lineup for the second time in the past three games. manager Grady Little said a few days would go him good. Ethier is batting .325 in his first Major League season, but he's 1-for-13 on the current road trip and is hitting .160 this month.