Dodgers 6, Mets 5

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NEW YORK (AP)—Dodgers manager Jim Tracy was excited about his 400th career victory—and his unconventional pitching change in the eighth inning had plenty to do with it.

Tracy brought in right-hander Steve Schmoll to face lefty slugger Cliff Floyd in a one-run game Friday night, and it paid off as Los Angeles’ bullpen preserved a 6-5 win over the New York Mets.

The move made sense because Tracy knew the numbers: Floyd was 4-for-5 in his career against left-hander Wilson Alvarez, but had never seen Schmoll before.

The rookie retired Floyd on a weak grounder, then set down David Wright and handed the lead to closer Yhency Brazoban.

“I just felt that Schmoll’s repertoire of pitches were much more significant for Cliff Floyd,” Tracy said.

Jeff Kent homered, doubled and singled, and the Dodgers won their third straight for the first time since June 4-6. Jayson Werth drove in two runs as Los Angeles built a 6-0 lead for Jeff Weaver, who helped himself with an RBI single and won for only the second time in eight starts.

Tracy certainly enjoyed the milestone.

“It’s pretty special. I’d like to think I have a lot more,” he said. “When I started here in 2001, the sentiment was that I might not get to 50. It’s pretty gratifying.”

The third-place Dodgers (44-52) also moved within 5 1/2 games of the NL West-leading Padres.

“That’s the nature of our division this year. We’ve all been staying within striking distance,” Kent said. “Somebody in the West is going to find lightning in a bottle and win the division, and we’re hoping it’s us.”

Carlos Beltran and Doug Mientkiewicz homered to bring the Mets within one, but the comeback bid fell short due to a strong effort by the Dodgers’ bullpen.

Duaner Sanchez retired Mike Cameron on a popup with runners at second and third, ending the seventh. Alvarez and Schmoll combined for a scoreless eighth, and Brazoban worked a perfect ninth for his 18th save in 22 chances.

Brazoban, replacing injured closer Eric Gagne, broke the team’s rookie saves record set by Steve Howe in 1980.

“We still have arms to close out games out there, it’s just a matter of us starters getting to those guys in the seventh, eighth inning,” Weaver said.

Coming off a sweep of the first-place Padres, the Mets had their four-game winning streak snapped. New York starters entered with a 1.53 ERA in the last eight games, but Victor Zambrano (4-9) failed to extend that surge. He lasted only 4 2-3 innings in a rare dud.

Weaver (8-8) allowed five runs and six hits in six innings. He has lasted at least six innings in his last 11 starts, going 4-4.

Kent, robbed of extra bases by center fielder Beltran in the first, connected for his 17th homer on an 0-2 pitch with two outs in the third.

Jason Phillips, acquired from the Mets during spring training, singled to start the fourth and went to third on a throwing error by Mientkiewicz.

“I had no angle to throw,” the Gold Glove first baseman said. “I was trying to make a play. It kind of backfired.”

Werth’s RBI single made it 2-0.

Werth stole second, then third without a throw, and scored when Weaver singled to center off Zambrano on an 0-2 pitch with two outs. It was Weaver’s fourth RBI this season.

Kent doubled in the fifth and scored on Phillips’ RBI groundout. Hee-Seop Choi’s two-out RBI double made it 5-0 and chased Zambrano, who was booed by the crowd of 50,273 as he walked off the mound.

“He didn’t do a good job of executing. I think the things that hurt him were the 0-2 pitches,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “It was more location than anything.”

Werth added a run-scoring single off Heath Bell.

“We’ve been swinging the bats more aggressively lately,” Kent said.

Mientkiewicz hit a two-run shot in the fifth, his second homer in two games.

Jose Reyes and Cameron singled to open the sixth, and Beltran hit Weaver’s next pitch over the right-field fence to cut it to 6-5.

Zambrano was charged with six runs and 10 hits. It was only the second time in 18 starts this season that he allowed more than three earned runs.

“It’s frustrating because we came back into the game and just couldn’t keep the momentum,” Mets catcher Mike Piazza said.

Notes

Hall of Famer Juan Marichal threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Merengue Night. … Choi tried to score on Jason Repko’s second-inning grounder, but was thrown out by third baseman Wright. … Choi also made three fine plays at first base. … Reyes got his 32nd stolen base. He has at least one in his last five games. … Marlon Anderson got his major league-leading 14th pinch-hit for the Mets. He is 14-for-33 (.424) as a pinch-hitter this season.

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