It's All Up Hill After Mets Victory

New York pitching shut down the Dodgers Thursday night in New York, limiting them to five hits and one run, Wilson Betemit's long home run in the eighth. Hong-Chic Kuo pitched well but ran out of pitches in the fifth inning and left trailing 1-0, with a second run being charged to him. The 4-1 victory by the Mets gives them a 2-0 lead in the best of five series that switches to L.A. Saturday.

Nomar Garciaparra aggravated his cranky quad muscle attempting to beat out a ground ball in the sixth inning and had to leave the game, ironically he was replaced by Betemit, who smacked a homer.

The lop-sided match-up that even an honest Boxing Commission would have nixed, featured Kou, making his sixth major league start, and Tom Glavine, who came into the game with just 298 more wins that his Los Angeles opponent.

Gavine, a smooth throwing lefthander, is a mirror-image of the Dodgers Greg Maddux, leaving hitters with a comfortable 0-for-4 while changing speeds and location, looking for all the world as if he was imminently hittable.

It isn't.

Nor is the Mets' bullpen, ranked No. 1 in the National League. If you don't get to a starter, your odds go down dramatically from there.

Gavine limited the Dodgers to a walk (Russell Martin) in the first three innings, while Kou gave up a looping single to center in the second to Carlos Delgado, his fifth hit in six trips this series.

Then, leading off the third inning, Angel Chavez dumped a bunt down the first base line that Kou came over to handle but dropped. It made little difference because Garciaparra came in to field the ball an no one covered first.

A wild pitch moved him to second, a ground ball moved him to third and another ground ball by Jose Reyes allowed him to score the first run of the game.

The Mets led 1-0 after three without a ball being hit out of the infield.

Garciaparra collected the Dodgers' first hit, a smash that glanced off the glove of third baseman David Wright. Jeff Kent followed with a single to left but J.D. Drew took a third strike and Martin flew to center.

Julio Lugo doubled down the left field line with one out in the fourth and Rafael Furcal walked with two out. This time it was Kenny Lofton that left the runners stranded, bouncing out to second.

Kuo, who expended 27 pitches in the second inning while facing only four Met batters, started to run low on fuel in the fifth, walking Jose Valentin, allowing another hit to Chavez and after Gavine bunted them to second and third, he was ordered to intentionally walk Reyes to load the bases.

That was it for him, Grady Little calling on Brett Tomko who gave up a long sacrifice fly to Paul Lo Duca to put N.Y. up 2-0.

Tomko struggled early in the sixth, allowing singles to Wright and Cliff Floyd. Valentin dropped a bunt down the third base line and a] Tomko was slow getting to it and b] Lugo couldn't handle the throw at first to again load the bases.

Mark Hendrickson came in and nearly got the Dodgers out of the jam. Chavez hit back to the mound and Hendrickson forced Wright at the plate. Then he threw a perfect double play ball that Furcal served to Lugo but his throw to first was soft and low, allowing 48-year-old Julio Franco to beat it out for an RBI as a run scored. Reyes' single made it 4-0.

The two unearned runs were more than the Dodgers could never overcome.

Chad Billingsley was a late addition to the staff when Joe Beimel suffered a freak accident, cutting his pitching hand so badly it took 10 stitches to close.

Working the eighth, Billingsley retired all three Mets he faced, striking out Beltran and Delgado. Takashi Saito worked a perfect ninth but the hay was in the barn by then.

Only Betemit's home run and a walk to Lugo marred the final 3.2 innings with former Dodger Pedro Feliciano helping out with a scoreless inning.

Gavine got the win, his sixth in succession over Los Angeles and the Dodgers dropped to 1-11 in Post Season play, the string reaching back to Orel Hershiser's World Series-clinching win over the Oakland A's in 1988.

After taking today (Friday) off, the Dodgers send Greg Maddux to the mound to attempt to stop the bleeding. Garciaparra's availability must certainly be day-to-day in a short season that just doesn't have many days left.

Game 3 time is 4-30 p.m. PT on Saturday, and for a potential Game 4 on Sunday, but that game has an "either/or" starting time. The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. PT. However, that game moves to 4-30 p.m. PT if the Yankees-Tigers series has concluded by Saturday.
  Score by innings
Dodgers 000 000 010-1
NY Mets 001 012 00x-4

  Dodgers      ab r h bi ave
Furcal ss       3 0 0 0 .143
Lofton cf       4 0 0 0 .000
Garciaparra 1b  3 0 1 0 .250
 Betemit 3b     1 1 1 1 .750
Kent 2b-1b      4 0 2 0 .500
Drew rf         4 0 0 0 .125
 Saito p        0 0 0 0 .000
Martin c        3 0 0 0 .143
Anderson lf-rf  4 0 0 0 .250
Lugo 3b-2b      3 0 1 0 .250
Kuo p           2 0 0 0 .000
 Tomko p        0 0 0 0 .000
 Hendrickson p  0 0 0 0 .000
 Martinez ph    1 0 0 0 .500
 Billingsley p  0 0 0 0 .000
 Ethier lf      0 0 0 0 .000
    Totals    32 1 5 1
    Mets      29 4 7 4 

  Error-Tomko. 2B - Lugo (1). 
HR - Betemit (1). RBI - Betemit 
(1). LOB - 7, New York 7.

  Dodgers   in h r-er bb so era
Kuo (0-1)   4.1 4 2-2 2 4 4.15
Tomko       0.2 2 2-0 1 0 0.00
Hendrickson 1.0 1 0-0 0 0 0.00
Billingsley 1.0 0 0-0 0 2 0.00
Saito       1.0 0 0-0 0 1 0.00
  WP-H Kuo. Time-2-57. Att-57,029.
Collins to manage in Japan-- As Bill Shelley reported previously, Dodgers farm director Terry Collins has accepted a three-year offer to become manager of the Orix Buffaloes in the Japanese Pacific League. The Buffaloes have a working relationship with the Dodgers.

Collins, who managed the Houston Astros and California Angels for three years each, has always wanted to return to the dugout. He became the Dodgers' Minor League field coordinator in 2002 and was promoted to farm director two years ago.

A year ago, Collins was the apparent front-runner to be named Dodgers manager by general manager Paul DePodesta, but DePodesta was instead dismissed. New general manager Ned Colletti did not interview Collins before naming Little manager, and Collins returned as farm director.

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