Dodgers Troubles Continue as Mets Sweep

The second game of the doubleheader went to New York 10-5 in a game that saw the Mets break a 3-3 tie in the fifth and add four in the sixth on a cold and windy evening. Los Angeles slid to 2-6 on the nine-game road trip and 8-12 over all and in last place in the National League West. They have lost their last three games, five of the last six and have dropped four games back.

Both games were played under difficult conditions. The temperature dropped below 50-degrees in the nightcap and a wind that gusted up to 35 miles per hour made both playing and watching the game a harrowing experience.

The injury list grew longer when shortstop Rafael Furcal suffered a hamstring pull. Before the two games, General Manager Ned Colletti heatedly voiced his disapproval of the situation on KABC Radio.

Colletti voiced his displeasure with his team, saying, "Some guys, I guess, think that they're better than they are. They think the opposition's just going to roll over and get beat by them. That obviously doesn't happen."

Colletti was particularly hard on Matt Kemp. "His baserunning's below average, his defense is below average. Why is it? Because he got a new deal? I can't tell you."

Tempers are short and normally placid James Loney was called out in the fourth inning on a ball at shoe-top hight with the bases loaded. He argued long and loud and was ejected when he threw his batting gloves toward the dugout to the batboy. Even the New York broadcasters were in agreement that the ball was very, very low, "But well take it," they said.

During the road trip the Dodgers have been steady across the board, struggling with the bat, the glove and on the mound.

"We just have to play better and pitch better," said manager Joe Torre. "We need to win three or four in a row so we get that inner conceit back, that 'Dare you to beat me.' We're sloppy at times, we walk too many people, we get behind and you can't expect too many good things to happen."

After suffering their second consecutive shutout in the first game, they extended their scoreless inning streak to 21 innings before tying the game 3-3 in the fourth inning.

In the uncomfortable nightcap, knuckleballer Charlie Haeger (0-3) allowed three runs in the first, retired eight in a row, and then left the game with none out and two on in the fifth.

The Mets untied the game by scoring seven runs in the next two innings off relievers Ramon Troncoso, Jon Link and George Sherrill before rookie Carlos Monasterios closed it out with two scoreless innings.

Los Angeles had five hits in the opening game and seven in the second contest.

Torre started Reed Johnson in left field, Ronnie Belliard at third, Jamey Carroll at shortstop, A.J. Ellis behind the plate and Blake DeWitt got the nod at second base

Offensive results were marginally better but the pitching was, well, awful.

Bad Start
Facing starter Oliver Perez, James Loney singled to right and Andre Ethier walked with one out. Matt Kemp swung at an ankle-high pitch and bounced to short before Belliard flew to center.

Things got ugly in the bottom of the inning. Haeger, battling the wind, the cold and his control, walked the first Met and after a sacrifice bunt, Jose Reyes scored him with a single. Jason Bay slammed a shot to deep center and Kemp didn't extend himself chasing it down. The triple made it 2-0.

A walk to David Wright and a sacrifice fly to Kemp ran the scored to 3-0 and Kemp's casual relay back to the infield allowed Wright to tag and take second.

The Dodgers tied the game in the third and Kemp cost a run or more with a baserunning blunder. Perez hit a wild streak, walking Andre Ethier and throwing a wild pitch before Kemp singled. Belliard hit a ground ball to short and although Ethier scored, Kemp was thrown out attempting to reach third base.

DeWitt flew to left before Carroll and Ellis walked, forcing in a second run. Hager drew the third walk of the inning to load the bases and Johnson's walk forced in the tying run.

Then Loney took what seemed to everyone in Citi Bank Park except the home plate umpire to be the fifth walk of the inning. Loney was stunned, then furious and both Torre and third base coach Larry Bowa rushed to home plate to calm the waters.

Loney said something as he started to leave the field and that was apparently a deal-breaker and it earned him the rest of the night off. Casey Blake came in to play third and Belliard took first base, a move that cost the Dodgers dearly later.

"I think it was unnecessary. I think it was unfortunate on the umpire's part, not James' part," Torre said.

Haeger had found his command and retired eight straight Mets before he ran into trouble in the fourth. A single and a double play to open the inning was followed by a single and another double but a fly ball to left ended the inning.

Hager walked the first two Mets to open the fifth and Troncoso was given the call. He was making his 14th appearance in 20 games, When the beat writers asked about his heavy workload after the game, Torre said, "When we feel he's made too many pitches, he won't be available."

With runners at first and second, Troncoso got a ground ball up the middle that DeWitt snapped up, stepped on second and threw on the bounce to Belliard at first. He couldn't hold the ball and the tie-breaking run scored. Jason Bay lined to third base for what could have been the third out before an RBI singled and a two-run double.

In the sixth Link allowed a pair of singles and a walk. Sherrill took over and a fielder-choice and an error by Carroll on a throw to the plate, plus a three-run triple to right-center put the game away for the Mets.

Los Angeles added a meaningless run in the seventh on Johnson's double and Ethier's single, and another in the ninth when Xavier Paul got an "excuse me" double when Bay and Angel Pagan both backed off his pop into short left-center. Johnson's single and Blake's sac fly ended the scoring.

One of the few bright spots was another solid performance by Monasterios, who pitched around a single to hold the Mets scoreless in the eighth and ninth.

Torre will give the ball today to 23-year-old right-hander John Ely, who has pitched only three Triple-A games, for his first Major League start in place of disabled Opening Day starter Vicente Padilla. Brad Ausmus was transferred to After the the 60-day disabled list to make roster room for Ely.

History Repeats Itself
The Mets and Los Angeles have played 22 doubleheaders over their mutual careers and when New York topped the Dodgers 10-5 in the second game of a rain-induced doubleheader, it was the first time the Mets have swept since August 22, 1971 in Shea Stadium. Claude Osteen and Jim Brewer were the losing pitchers.

Tom Seaver beat the Dodgers in the first game and Osteen allowed six runs in the first inning without getting an out. Willie Davis homered in the third and Bobby Valentine's pinch-hit RBI single in the ninth accounted for all the Dodgers runs.

In the second game, Don Sutton pitched seven shutout innings and turned the ball over to reliever Jim Brewer in the eighth after pinch-hitter Tom Haller had knocked in the first run of the game with a single. New York tied the game 1-1 in the eighth and won on a two-out home run by Cleon Jones with two out in the ninth.

Dodger Blue Notes --The Dodgers are 8-12 in April with just three games left to play in the month. The club's last losing March/April was in 2006 when they went 12-13. Over the last 16 seasons, the Dodgers have had a losing record in the season's opening month just twice: 2006 and 1994 (11-12). ...Before the two games, the Dodger bullpen had worked nine consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. Troncoso leads the Major Leagues with 14 appearances. ...Shortstop Rafael Furcal Furcal felt tightness in one of his hamstrings in the seventh inning but remained in the game defensively for the rest of the game will probably will miss today's series finale as well. ...Right-hander Vicente Padilla won't be able to throw a baseball for a week to 10 days after being diagnosed with an irritation of the radial nerve in his right forearm following an MRI exam. John Ely, who is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts for the Isotopes, will be making his major league debut today. ...A couple of Mets' coaches are very familiar to Dodger fans. Their new bench coach Dave Jauss, held the same position for Dodger skipper Grady Little from 2006-07. New York's pitching coach is Dan Warthen, who was the Dodger bullpen coach under Little in 2006 and 2007. Warthen took over the Mets' staff on June 17, 2008. Former Dodger Director of Player Development Terry Collins is the Mets' minor league field coordinator.

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