Mets Draw First Blood With 8-4 Win

The crowd at Shea Stadium gave Dodgers Manager Joe Torre a standing ovation, showing their appreciation for the man who did such a remarkable job with their cross-town rival Yankees. That was perhaps the only enjoyable part of Torre's return to the Big Apple as the Mets battered starter Brad Penny for an 8-4 win.

A rare catcher's interference call on Russell Martin led to a four-run fourth inning that put the game away, although the Dodgers did break out of their one-run-a-game mode.

Brad Penny worked a season-low four innings, was tagged for eight hits and six runs, five earned, and allowed a pair of home runs as he lost his fourth consecutive decision. The Dodgers (26-27) slipped below the .500 mark for the first time since April 27.

Shea Stadium has been a snake pit for Penny. The two-time All-Star, who went 16-4 last year is now 5-6 with an 5.66 ERA, almost double last year's 3.03.

He needing 91 pitches to complete four innings and is now 5-13 lifetime against the Mets and 1-10 lifetime at Shea. David Wright's two homers boosted his career average against Penny to .579, with four home runs and 19 RBIs in 19 at-bats.

The loss was the Dodgers' fourth in a row and sixth in their last seven games but Arizona lost again to the Giants, who suddenly are only 3.5 games behind Los Angeles. "We're fortunate where we sit, considering how many games we've lost," said Torre.

Jeff Kent has seemingly fought his way out of a prolonged slump, smacking a single and a two-run homer in his first game since being sidelined three days by a bad back in frigid Wrigley Field.

Mets starter Claudio Vargas faced only 12 Dodgers in the first four innings and by that time New York had six runs, Los Angeles didn't get on the board until the fifth.

Penny gave up a two-out walk in the third to Luis Castillo, which was immediately followed by Wright's first home run of the night to put NY in front 2-0.

All eight Mets runs came with two out, a bit of information not lost on Penny. "This stretch of bad games for me, it's all come with two outs," said Penny. "I'm not putting the inning away."

In the fourth, Martin tipped Vargas' bat with two out, allowing him to take first base. Jose Reyes singled, Castillo doubled, Pierre was charged with a throwing error when Blake DeWitt was late getting to third, and Penny was backing up the plate, Wright hit another home run and, like being hit by lightening, the Dodgers were down, and pretty much out, trailing 6-0.

However, at that point the Dodgers began to fight back. Kent, who missed the last two games with a stiff back, and Blake DeWitt hit home runs in a three-run fifth inning to cut the margin to 6-3. James Loney singled in Andre Ethier in the sixth to get the Dodgers to within 6-4.

But Scott Proctor and Joe Beimel coughed up a pair of runs in the seventh inning, but in the process of pulling Proctor, Torre was received his, "glad to have you back, thanks for everything" response from the Mets fans.

"It made me feel good, considering the game," Torre said. "It was nice because of the fact it started here managing the Mets. It doesn't seem that long ago, but it was."

Tonight's Pitchers:
LHP Clayton Kershaw (0-0, 3.00 ERA). In Kershaw's first Major League start he allowed St. Louis two runs on five hits while pitching six innings. He threw 102 pitches, 69 for strikes, and consistently hit 96-97 mph on the radar gun. He struck out seven, including three in the first inning.

RHP John Maine (5-4, 3.41 ERA). Maine had a strong outing at Coors Field on his last start, holding the Rockies to three hits and four walks over six innings while striking out a season-high eight. Maine allowed four runs (three earned), and through the first five innings, the only hit the Rockies touched him for was a three-run homer that followed an error on a potential double-play grounder that would have ended the inning.
 Score by innings
Los Angeles	000 031 000-4
New York	002 400 20x-2

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Pierre lf	4  0  2  0  .276
Ethier rf	4  1  1  0  .306
Martin c	3  0  0  0  .311
Kent 2b        	4  1  2  1  .248
Loney 1b	4  1  2  1  .276
Kemp cf        	4  0  0  0  .305
DeWitt 3b	4  1  1  2  .293
Maza ss	        3  0  0  0  .321
Penny p	        1  0  0  0  .190
 Sweeney ph	1  0  0  0  .095
 Kuo p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Tiffee ph	1  0  0  0  .333
 Proctor p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Wade p	        0  0  0  0  .000
  Totals	33 4  7 4
  New York	35 8 13 7

 Error- Martin (6) Pierre (1). 2b hits- Ethier
(12). HR- Kent (5), DeWitt (5). RBI- Kent (23),
DeWitt 2 (27), Loney (30). SB- Pierre (20).
LOB- Los Angeles 3, New York 8. DP- Maza, Kent
and Loney; Kent, Maza and Loney.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb  so  era
Penny (5-6)	4.0  8  6-5  3  2  5.66
Kuo        	2.0  1  0-0  0  0  2.18
Proctor	        0.1  0  1-1  1  0  5.55
Beimel	        0.2  3  1-1  0  0  1.62
Wade        	1.0  1  0-0  1  0  1.32
 T- 3:04. Att- 52,866.
Kershaw Gets His Number
The 20-year-old Kershaw received uniform No. 22 from Mark Sweeney, who took the No. 21 vacated by Esteban Loaiza. Kershaw's favorite player growing up was Will Clark, who wore the number with the San Francisco Giants.

Kershaw, who wore No. 54 in his big league debut, never had No. 22 in the minors. It was the number he always had as a teenager in Texas.

"I used to like to play first base," he said.

Kershaw couldn't wear the number in high school because a former coach never returned the jersey with the number on it after he was let go. Sweeney, 38, gave up the number because "He'll be in uniform a lot longer than I will."

Derek Lowe was asked for a comparable can't-miss prospect who made it big and his answer was quick and positive. "Alex," said Lowe, referring to the Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez. "They are exactly the same. Not just good. Great. And they were about the same age."

Lowe said he remembered all the hype about Rodriguez, how there was nothing regular about him, nothing he can't do, the best prospect they've ever seen, the whole nine yards. "And they were right," he said.

"Alex and this kid are very comparable. They both have an extreme belief in themselves. Yet neither sits back and doesn't work hard to be good. It would be easy, at that age, with everybody saying how good they are, to coast. But you have to have an inner drive to be great."

"You find that makeup separates the great ones," he said. "A lot of guys have good talent. But there's a belief system, where they know they are that good. Sure, you have to have electric stuff. He does. But I remember him facing Boston in the final Spring Training game. He strikes out David Ortiz on three pitches. And he had this air about him, he stared at Ortiz. He's not intimidated. He doesn't see David Ortiz as any different than any other hitter he's faced in the Minor Leagues.

"If he can keep that mentality, but at the same time keep the willingness to learn, that's a gift that will allow him to always get better."

Bullpen coach Ken Howell, who pitched seven years in the Major Leagues, summed up what makes Kershaw different from the rest.

"A lot of us pretended we can be," Howell said. "This guy is. His presence gives us an energy. I compare it to the way we felt when we knew Fernando Valenzuela was going to pitch that day, that anticipation when he was starting."

Dodger Blue Notes-- Blake DeWitt's fifth home run tied him for the club lead with Rafael Furcal and Andre Ethier. Three of his homers are against the Mets. His 27 RBIs rank third, three behind club leader James Loney. ...The top five hitters for the Mets combined for 11 hits. ...Cory Wade pitched another scoreless inning, lowering his ERA to 1.32. ...Rafael Furcal will probably have to play some games in a minor league rehabilitation assignment with Las Vegas before returning to the lineup, Torre said. Furcal, who is hitting a team-best .366, last played on May 5. Torre said he was still uncertain of when Furcal would be able to play again. The shortstop is in Los Angeles receiving treatment from team physical therapist Sue Falsone. ...Torre also said he would like Jason Schmidt to throw 85 pitches in a minor league rehab start before he returns from the disabled list. Schmidt can be on a rehab assignment for up to 30 days, meaning it can be extended until June 9. "If you can throw 85, you can throw 100," Torre said. Schmidt is scheduled to make his fourth rehab start for Class-A Inland Empire on Saturday, which would be his first outing on four days' rest.