Mets Three-Run Third Frustrates Dodgers

New York tagged Hiroki Kuroda for three runs in the third inning to break a 1-1 tie and the Dodgers, although they put baserunners on every inning, could never overcome the early deficit and lost a painful 5-4 decision to the Mets.

Kuroda, who was never quite able to settle in, allowed eight hits and a pair of walks before leaving with one out in the fifth. The turning point in the game came in the third when with one out, one in and Mets runners at first and second, a sharply hit ball by Ryan Church was misplayed and instead of a double play, New York went on to score twice more.

It was Kuroda's third lifetime start against the Mets and his ERA is close to double figures in those games. Manager Joe Torre said, "He just didn't look like he was crisp at all. He was really laboring. Warming up in the bullpen, he was fighting it."

He was behind in the count most of the evening and his curve ball did not come to the park with him

The Dodgers faced Oliver Perez, who came into the game allowing a walk an inning and maintained that pace over his five innings. He walked seven but allowed only four hits and a pair of runs.

Perez, effectively wild, didn't allow the Dodgers hitters to maintain a rhythm at any time and after stranding 14 runners in the first game of the series, they left another dozen this night. They finished 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

Andre Ethier, locked in a 5-for-43 slump (.116), left three in scoring position and eight overall and hit into a double play to end the game. Orlando Hudson left four on base and Manny Ramirez three.

Even with Ronald Belisario in Los Angeles to check his aching arm, the bullpen came through with 3.2 scoreless innings in which they collectively allowed one it and no runs.

The offense managed nine hits but Matt Kemp had three and Rafael Furcal and Russell Martin had a pair each.

Ramirez went hitless in four trips until the ninth when he laced an outside fastball into the right field seats to draw the Dodgers within one run. It is obvious that his timing is nearly back to normal. He hit three flies to center field, the first one traveling over 600 feet but mostly up and down. He lined out on his third trip, his a smash at the third baseman before the big hit.

The home run was his eighth of the season and his 535th of his career, moving out of a tie with Jimmy Foxx and within one of Mickey Mantle.

Manny was generally booed on each plate appearance, but it wasn't a normal, vicious New York boo that seemed almost good-natured.

Despite that, he had few smiles during the game except for twice, after making good, running catches in the outfield -- one over his head and one knee high. He responded after each catch by turning to center fielder Matt Kemp and mouthing a WOW!

Perez teetered on the brink of disaster over his five innings and a double at four of them would have produced multiple runs and possibly knocked him out of the game.

He stranded runners at first and third first, at second in the second, the bases loaded in the third, at first with one out in the fourth and first and second in the fifth.

Cory Wade, just recalled from Albuquerque, Guillermo Mota (who added is ninth consecutive scoreless inning), Brent Leach and Ramon Troncoso shut off the Mets offense after Kuroda left but the offense could not bridge the gap.

Los Angeles scored one run in the first on Mark Loretta's RBI single, but four reached base. Three long shots to center alternated with a pair of walks in the third. Ethier lined out to third with the bases loaded. Hudson and Ramirez made outs in the fifth with runners at first and third.

And in the ninth, with New York closer Francisco Rodriguez in to shut things down, Ramirez led off with his laser shot into the right field wall and Casey Blake walked for the fourth time in the game. Torre chose to let Loretta hit instead of pinch-hitting James Loney and Loretta struck out for the first out.

Martin laced a long single into right field to move the tying run to second base but Ethier bounced into a game-ending double play.

Rafael Furcal singled in a run in the fourth and his ground ball scored Kemp after his liner to right skipped past the Mets' fielder for a triple.

The loss broke a string of four straight wins over the Mets this season, and with the Giants losing, the Dodgers lost a chance to move a full eight games in front of them.

Pitching match-ups before the All-Star Game:

Tonight, July 9, LHP Randy Wolf (3-3, 3.49) vs. 
  RHP Livan Hernandez (5-4, 4.56)

Friday, July 10, RHP Chad Billingsley (9-4, 3.14) 
  vs. RHP Braden Looper (7-4, 4.78)

Saturday, July 11, RHP Jeff Weaver (5-2, 3.32) 
  vs. RHP Mike Burns (1-2, 5.57)        
Sunday, July 12, LHP Clayton Kershaw (6-5, 3.27) 
  vs. RHP Yovani Gallardo (8-6, 2.95) 


  Score by Innings
Los Angeles	100 100 011-4
New Your Mets	013 010 00x-5

  Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave 
Furcal ss	4  0  2  2  .254
Hudson 2b	5  1  0  0  .285
Ramirez lf	5  1  1  1  .333
Blake 3b	1  0  0  0  .288
Loretta 1b	4  0  1  1  .243
Martin c	3  0  2  0  .257
Ethier rf	5  0  0  0  .247
Kemp cf        	3  2  3  0  .314
Kuroda p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Wade p        	0  0  0  0  .000
 DeWitt ph	1  0  0  0  .190
 Mota p        	0  0  0  0  .000
 Leach p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Pierre ph	1  0  0  0  .328
 Troncoso p	0  0  0  0  .000
  Totals 	32  4  9  4
  Mets	        34  5  9  4

  Error- Blake (7). 3B- Kemp (6).
HR- Ramirez (8). RBI- Loretta (15),
Furcal 2 (19), Ramirez (25). S- Kuroda 2.
LOB- Los Angeles 12, Mets 8. 
  Los Angeles	 in  h r-er bb so era  
Kuroda (3-5)	4.1  8  5-4  2  1  4.27
Wade        	0.2  1  0-0  0  1  5.74
Mota        	1.1  0  0-0  0  0  3.66
Leach	        0.2  0  0-0  0  1  2.95
Troncoso	1.0  0  0-0  1  0  1.83
  T- 3:30. Att- 40,027.
Good News on Belisario
Los Angeles doctors found no structural damage in the right elbow of rookie Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list and replaced by Cory Wade, who was recalled from Albuquerque. "It's good news," Torre said. "Structurally, there's no problem. He has irritation in the elbow. The treatment now is no treatment. They'll keep him from doing anything for about a week and then re-evaluate. From what trainer Stan Conte told me, he had more freedom today."

Belisario, who had Tommy John elbow reconstruction and missed the entire 2005 and 2006 seasons, leads the team with 43 appearances. He made the Opening Day roster after 10 years in the minor leagues.

Torre said rookie James McDonald, who pitched a scoreless seventh inning in the first game of the series, will become the primary seventh-inning reliever when needed bridge the game between the starter, Ramon Troncoso in the eighth inning and closer Jonathan Broxton in the ninth.

Torre was ambivalent about the future of rehabbing pitcher Jason Schmidt, who allowed four runs in six innings at Albuquerque on Tuesday night. Schmidt has time for one more start Sunday before his rehab assignment expires and the club must make a decision on him.

Schmidt hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues for more than two years, undergoing two shoulder operations. In seven Minor League appearances this year at two levels, he's a combined 3-1 with a 3.43 ERA, 32 strikeouts and 13 walks in 39.1 innings.

Dodger Blue Notes --The highlight TV play of the game came in the sixth inning. Loretta hit a shot down the first base line that bounced off the bag and away toward second base. First baseman Dan Murphy quickly reversed his field, picked up the ball and threw it behind his back to pitcher Bobby Parnell covering first in time for the out, much to the dismay of Loretta. ...It was the first time in the last seven games that Dodger starting pitchers have allowed more than three earned runs in a game. ...The Dodger pitching staff leads the Majors in opponent batting average (.230), which includes the lowest mark in the big leagues by their starting pitchers (.233) and the relief corps (.225). ...Despite the loss, the Dodgers have won eight of the last 13 meetings between these two teams, including a three-game sweep at Dodger Stadium May 18-20. ...At 53-31, the Dodgers have the best record in the Majors, one game better than the Red Sox (51-33).  ...Casey Blake's error in the third inning was only the Dodgers 38th error this season, third in the National League behind the Phillies (32) and the Pirates for the second-lowest total in the NL behind the Pirates (37).