Costly as it was, the Dodgers fought back from a 4-1 deficit to tie the game, fell behind again 6-4 and then cut the margin to 6-5 in the ninth with the tying run at second and Nomar Garciaparra at the plate.
But on this afternoon, at least, the magic ran out on them. Garciaparra fanned, the Mets won 6-5 and Los Angeles is in a 1-0 hole going into tonight's game at Shea Stadium.
John Maine, starting in place of Orlando Hernandez because of an injury, sailed through the first inning but the Dodgers had him on the ropes in the second.
In a play that would have done the "Daffy Dodgers" of the early 1930's proud, Los Angeles had Jeff Kent on second and J.D. Drew on first with singles and none out in the second inning of a scoreless game.
The entire surreal sequence was orchestrated by a trio of former Dodgers, Shawn Green, Jose Valentin and Paul Lo Duca.
Russell Martin hit a shot into the right field corner that banged off the wall and directly back into the hand of right fielder Green. He quickly fired the ball to Valentin who whirled and threw to the plate nailing Kent with room to spare.
Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, catcher Lo Duca saw Drew steaming home and easily put a tag on him, too.
Three straight hits, two out on a double into the right field corner. Martin goes down in history, alongside Babe Herman (1926), as the only Dodger to double into a double play.
"Awful, just awful," third base coach Rich Donnelly said.
"I was ready to throw my hands up but if I hold Kent, we've got two guys on third base. J.D. was right behind him. The last thing on my mind was that he would try to score. I thought, one's going to be safe and one's going to be out. I just hoped they'd throw the ball away."
Marlon Anderson would double into the right field corner to score Martin, giving the club something for their trouble and Wilson Betemit walked but with all that activity, one run was all they could put on the scoreboard.
The gaffe came back to haunt the team when New York got homers from Carlos Delgado and Cliff Floyd in the fifth to take the lead and a two-run single from rookie David Wright in the sixth to run the margin to 4-1 with all the runs coming off starter Derek Lowe.
L.A. bounced back they did, as they have all season, When Anderson beat out a bunt and Betemit lived on a failed force play in the seventh.
Rafael Furcal singled home one run and stole second. With two out Garciaparra doubled inside the bag at third to tie the game.
With Brad Penny on the mound in relief in the bottom of the inning, a pair of walks came back to haunt him when Delgado whacked his fourth hit of the game and Wright hit a 120-foot single to put the Mets back up by two.
In the ninth, Betemit doubled and pinch-hitter Ramon Martinez also smacked a double into right-center to cut the lead to 6-5.
But with NY stopper Billy Wagner hitting 98 on the speed gun, Garciaparra struck on a pitch in the dirt to end the game.
The Dodgers send rookie left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo to the mound tonight, hoping salvage a series-tying victory. The Mets were 25-22 against lefties during the regular season and one of those losses was to Kuo, who tossed six scoreless innings on Sept. 8.
Score by innings Los Angeles 010 000 301-5 11 1 New York 000 202 20x-6 9 1 Dodgers ab r g bi ave Furcal, SS 4 1 1 1 .250 Lofton, CF 4 0 0 0 .000 Martinez, PH 1 0 1 1 1.000 Repko, PR 0 0 0 0 .000 Garciaparra, 1B 5 0 1 2 .200 Kent, 2B 4 0 2 0 .500 Drew, RF 4 0 1 0 .250 Martin, C 4 1 1 0 .250 Anderson, LF 4 1 2 1 .500 Betemit, 3B 3 2 2 0 .667 Lowe, P 1 0 0 0 .000 Hendrickson, P 0 0 0 0 .000 Lugo, PH 1 0 0 0 .000 Penny, P 0 0 0 0 .000 Broxton, P 0 0 0 0 .000 Saenz, PH 1 0 0 0 1 .000 Totals 36 5 11 5 Mets 34 6 9 6 Error- Kent. 2B: Anderson (1), Garciaparra (1), Betemit (1), Martinez (1). RBI: Anderson (1), Furcal (1), Garciaparra 2 (2), Martinez (1). S: Lowe. LOB: Los Angeles 7, New York 10 . SB: Furcal (1). Dodgers in h r-er bb so era Lowe 5.1 6 4-4 2 6 6.75 Hendrickson 0.2 0 0-0 0 1 0.00 Penny (0-1) 1.0 2 2-2 2 1 18.00 Broxton 1.0 1 0-0 1 1 0.00 T: 3:05. Att: 56,979.Biemel Out-- An injury suffered Tuesday morning kept Joe Beimel off the roster for the Division Series, when a glass slipped out of his hand and cut his pitching hand so badly he needed 10 stitches. He attempted to throw before the game but was unable to and the club removed him from the roster.
Chad Billingsley was added in his place. The rest of the staff includes Derek Lowe, Game 2 starter Hong-Chih Kuo, Game 3 starter Greg Maddux, Game 4 starter Brad Penny and relievers Takashi Saito, Jonathan Broxton, Brett Tomko, Mark Hendrickson and Aaron Sele.
The position players on the roster included is rookie first baseman James Loney, who provides insurance for banged-up starting first baseman Nomar Garciaparra, who is nursing injuries to an oblique muscle, left quad and right knee.
The other position players are outfielders J.D. Drew, Kenny Lofton, Marlon Anderson, Andre Ethier and Jason Repko; infielders Garciaparra, Jeff Kent, Rafael Furcal, Wilson Betemit, Julio Lugo, Ramon Martinez, Olmedo Saenz and Loney; catchers Russell Martin and Toby