NEW YORK (AP) -- Thanks to a stellar performance by steady Tom
Glavine, the otherwise pitching-depleted New York Mets are on the
cusp 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 Division Series.
"This is the opportunity that I wanted to have here in New
York," said Glavine, grateful to be healthy after a blood-clot
scare in August. "I understand the opportunity that's in front of
me and I understand the expectations on this team, and certainly 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
But suddenly, New York is one win from the NL Championship
"A beautifully pitched ballgame," Mets manager Willie Randolph
said. "Big-money pitcher."
"We're in a tight spot," Dodgers manager Grady Little said.
"We've got to come out ready to win three in a row."
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 matchup at Shea Stadium 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 40-year-old Glavine, with 290 major league wins, was facing
a 25-year-old rookie who owns one.
Hong-Chih Kuo shut out the Mets for six innings on Sept. 8 at
Shea 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.
"He was tough again," Randolph said. "We just made him pitch
a little bit. We had some at-bats where we taxed him a little
Glavine was at his deceptive best -- changing speeds, nipping the
corners and escaping jams. With runners at first and third in the
fifth, he got Kenny Lofton on an inning-ending grounder, then
calmly handed Lofton's shattered stick to a Dodgers bat boy.
"It was the wrong guy for us to face," Dodgers slugger Jeff
Kent said. "A lot of pitches just off the plate, and you get
Glavine, who beat Los Angeles twice during the regular season,
gave up only four hits in his first playoff win since 2001 with
Atlanta. After making the playoffs year after year with the Braves,
he improved to 13-15 in the postseason with a 3.34 ERA.
"I know I've lost a lot of close games in the postseason,"
Glavine said. "For me, I don't feel as though I have anything to
prove. I'm proud of what I've done. I'm proud of what I've
accomplished. I'm just trying to live in the moment."
Randolph mentioned before the game that the Mets needed to have
a more patient approach against Kuo this time, and they forced him
to throw 51 pitches in the second and third innings alone.
Super sub Endy Chavez, starting in right field instead of Shawn
Green, dropped a beautiful drag bunt for a hit to start the third.
He scampered around the bases on a wild pitch and Glavine's tapper,
then scored on Reyes' RBI groundout.
"I told you I like Endy. I love him, actually," Randolph said.
"The guy can play, that's why he's in the game. No more questions
about Endy. He's a big part or our offense and a big part of our
team. It's been that way all year."
Garciaparra's infield single with one out in the fourth was the
first hit off Glavine. Garciaparra didn't even run out a grounder
in the sixth, and was removed before the bottom half.
Jose Valentin drew a leadoff walk from Kuo in the fifth, Chavez
singled and Glavine put down a typically perfect sacrifice. Paul Lo
Duca's sacrifice fly made it 2-0.
The Mets loaded the bases in the sixth on two singles and a
throwing error by reliever Brett Tomko. Franco beat out a potential
double-play ball to make it 3-0.
"He's stolen a few bases for us. It's amazing how he
competes," Randolph said. "That was a huge play for us."
Reyes added a two-out RBI single for New York's final run.
Martinez had successful surgery on his right rotator cuff.
He is expected to be sidelined until next June. ... It was the
first time the Mets and Yankees hosted playoff games on the same
day since Oct. 7, 2000. That day, the Mets edged San Francisco 3-2
on Benny Agbayani's 13th-inning homer, and Oakland's Barry Zito
beat Roger Clemens 11-1 at Yankee Stadium. ... The Mets are 6-0 in
division series home games. They are 4-0 in five-game playoff
series. ... Kuo played high school ball in Taiwan with 19-game
winner Chien-Ming Wang of the Yankees.