Archive for Friday, October 6, 2006

Mets top Dodgers, take 2-0 series lead

Glavine sharp in postseason return

October 6, 2006

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— Sure, the New York Mets are missing two experienced starters. They still have Tom Glavine, though, and his stellar pitching performance put them on the brink of a first-round sweep.

Making his 33rd postseason start - but first since joining the Mets in 2003 - Glavine tossed six shutout innings, and New York scratched out enough runs to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-1, Thursday night for a 2-0 lead in their NL playoff series.

"This is the opportunity that I wanted to have here in New York," Glavine said. "I understand the opportunity that's in front of me, and I understand the expectations on this team and on me as a player."

Jose Reyes drove in two runs from the leadoff spot, 48-year-old pinch-hitter Julio Franco hustled to beat out a potential double-play ball for an RBI, and Billy Wagner earned his second consecutive save.

Two days earlier, the NL East champions lost Orlando Hernandez to a calf injury - leaving him on the sidelines with ace Pedro Martinez all postseason.

But now, New York is one win from the NL championship series.

"A beautifully pitched ballgame," Mets manager Willie Randolph said.

The Mets will go for the sweep Saturday in Los Angeles against Greg Maddux, who has 333 career wins. Steve Trachsel will pitch for New York.

"I think that we're in a tight spot. That pretty much sums it up," Dodgers manager Grady Little said. "We've got to come out ready to win three in a row."

This one was the second of two playoff games in New York on Thursday. Up in the Bronx, Detroit beat the Yankees, 4-3, in the afternoon.

The Mets were the only team in the first round to win its first two home games. They capitalized on an embarrassing baserunning blunder for a 6-5 victory in Game 1, when the Dodgers had two runners cut down at home plate on one bizarre play.

The Dodgers dropped to 1-11 in the postseason since winning the 1988 World Series.

They also lost Nomar Garciaparra in the sixth inning because of a leg injury - he hobbled across first on an infield hit in the fourth. The All-Star first baseman has been playing with a strained left quadriceps. His status for Game 3 was uncertain.

The 40-year-old Glavine, with 290 major league wins, was facing a 25-year-old rookie who owns one.

Los Angeles left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo shut out the Mets for six innings on Sept. 8 at Shea Stadium in his only big league victory. That was one reason he got the start in this one. The Dodgers also figured a lefty might have success against New York's lineup - the Mets struggled down the stretch vs. left-handed starters.

But this time, New York fouled off many of Kuo's tough pitches and chased him in the fifth.

Glavine, who beat Los Angeles twice during the regular season, gave up only four hits in his first playoff win since 2001 with Atlanta.

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