Valdespin Slams Dodgers
By MIKE FITZPATRICK AP Sports Writer=
NEW YORK (AP) _ Jordany Valdespin hit a grand slam in the 10th inning and the New York Mets rallied past the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-3 Wednesday night to save early sensation Matt Harvey from his first loss of the season.
David Wright tied it with a two-out single in the ninth off Los Angeles closer Brandon League, handed his first blown save in six chances.
Matt Kemp hit his first homer of the year and drove in three runs as the Dodgers grabbed a 3-1 lead against Harvey. The budding Mets ace pitched pretty well, though, and was bailed out when his teammates rallied late.
Pinch-hitter Mike Baxter hustled for a leadoff double in the ninth when his sinking liner to left glanced off the wrist of a sliding Carl Crawford. Baxter advanced on Ruben Tejada’s sacrifice, and League had a chance to get out of it after third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. crashed into the railing to make a spectacular catch on Daniel Murphy’s foul popup.
Wright, however, lined the next pitch to right-center for his first hit of the night.
John Buck led off the 10th with a single against Josh Wall (0-1), and Ike Davis walked on four pitches. Both runners moved up on Marlon Byrd’s sacrifice, and Lucas Duda was intentionally walked to load the bases.
With the Dodgers playing five infielders and two shallow outfielders, Valdespin drove a 2-1 pitch to right for his first career slam and game-ending homer.
Valdespin, who grounded out as a pinch hitter with a chance to tie it in the eighth, tossed his helmet high in the air and hopped on home plate into the arms of excited teammates.
It was the first walk-off grand slam for the Mets since Kevin McReynolds connected on June 25, 1991.
Bobby Parnell (1-0) worked around a leadoff walk in the 10th.
Kemp’s two-run shot off Harvey in the sixth, originally ruled a triple before a replay review, snapped a 1-all tie.
Ted Lilly tossed five effective innings in his first start since shoulder surgery, giving the Dodgers’ injury-depleted rotation a boost. Los Angeles had won six in a row at Citi Field.
The 37-year-old Lilly gave up one run and struck out seven, wriggling out of two jams in his first big league outing since last May. The two-time All-Star opened 5-1 last season before he was sidelined by a left shoulder injury that required surgery in September.
Harvey, who beat Washington phenom Stephen Strasburg last Friday, entered with a 0.93 ERA. He fanned seven in six innings against the Dodgers but failed in his bid to become the first five-game winner in the majors. The Mets said he was the first pitcher since 1900 to win his first four starts in a season while allowing no more than 10 total hits, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau.
Three days later, Tampa Bay left-hander Matt Moore matched that feat.
Harvey was cruising along until he walked Adrian Gonzalez on a full-count pitch with two outs in the sixth. Kemp drove a 2-0 fastball, clocked at 95 mph, toward the right-field corner where a security guard stationed at the foul pole tried to catch the ball just behind the wall.
The ball caromed off his hands and back onto the field as umpires ruled it in play and Kemp pulled into third base. But the umps went inside for a look at the replay and, after a 21/2-minute delay, correctly called it a two-run homer that gave Los Angeles a 3-1 lead.
A sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Justin Turner pulled the Mets to 3-2 in the sixth.
Harvey, a legitimate threat with the bat, bounced back to the mound with the bases loaded to end the second. But he doubled off the left-field fence leading off the fifth and scored the tying run when Tejada grounded a single just inside first base to snap an 0-for-18 slump.
One hit later, the Dodgers appeared to have trouble with the bullpen phone in their dugout _ the second time that’s happened to a visiting team at Citi Field this season.
Harvey was nicked for a first-inning run on Kemp’s RBI groundout after consecutive singles by Mark Ellis and Gonzalez put runners at the corners. Following those hits, the right-hander retired 16 of his next 17 batters.
NOTES: Crawford was rested ahead of Thursday’s matinee. Mattingly said he thought Skip Schumaker, who started in LF and batted leadoff, might be well-equipped to handle Harvey’s fastball. Crawford entered in a sixth-inning double switch. … Mattingly said 3B Hanley Ramirez (right thumb surgery) threw much better than three days ago and could begin a minor league rehab assignment next week. “He’s getting close,” Mattingly said. “It was encouraging today.” … Dodgers LHP Chris Capuano (strained left calf) was scheduled to throw a bullpen, but hadn’t started running yet. Mattingly said the Dodgers think Capuano will be ready to come off the disabled list _ after one rehab start _ when he’s eligible on May 2. … To open a roster spot for Lilly, the Dodgers optioned catcher Tim Federowicz to Triple-A Albuquerque. … Mets LHP Jonathon Niese said he might push his bullpen back a day this week but he’ll definitely make his next scheduled start Sunday against Philadelphia. Niese was knocked out of Tuesday night’s game by a third-inning comebacker that bruised his lower right leg.
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