If they meet again, it will be.
Hernandez allowed one earned run in seven innings, and David Wright’s two-run single after Maddux left tagged the 40-year-old pitcher with a loss Saturday as the New York Mets beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2.
Just as El Duque did pitching for the Yankees in the World Series opener seven years ago, he got the best of Maddux again.
“For me it was kind of cool because it brought back good memories,” said Maddux, who was pitching for Atlanta then.
The Mets are all but in the playoffs, and the Dodgers are in a fight to get there.
New York won for the second time in three games against the Dodgers in the matchup of NL division leaders. The Mets lowered their magic number for clinching the East to five, while Los Angeles maintained a 1 1/2 -game lead over San Diego, which lost to San Francisco 5-4 in 11 innings Saturday.
“I’m not thinking of the postseason. I’m thinking of my next start,” Hernandez said. “When you’re not clinched, it’s no good to think about the playoffs.”
Wright went 3-for-3, and his go-ahead hit with two outs in the sixth off Brett Tomko, the third Dodgers pitcher of the inning, gave the Mets their major league-leading 29th one-run victory.
“He did a good job making pitches,” Wright said. “It was a battle all along.”
Maddux was staked to a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth but got lost because of his intentional walk to Beltran—his last hitter and the only free pass he issued.
Maddux (12-13) lost his second straight start and fell to 3-2 in eight outings with the Dodgers. He allowed all three runs and five hits in 5 1-3 innings, quite an improvement from his previous two starts this season against New York when he gave up 12 earned runs in 13 innings with Chicago.
Hernandez (10-10) was masterful, keeping the Dodgers off balance with changeups, curves and sliders that hovered in the 70-80 mph range, and fastballs that reached the low 90s.
“He’s a master at what he does,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “He can go up in the zone and overpower you when he has to with his fastball, then he can also drop and finesse you.”
After Rafael Furcal’s leadoff double on the second pitch of the game, El Duque retired 15 straight hitters before running into trouble in the sixth.
No. 8 hitter Russell Martin singled and advanced to second when Maddux faked a bunt and swung away. Shortstop Jose Reyes was covering second, and had to range deep in the hole to field the grounder. His throw to first bounced in and out of the glove of first baseman Carlos Delgado, allowing Maddux to reach on the error.
Furcal sacrificed, and Kenny Lofton drove in Martin with a single to center. Maddux advanced to third on the base hit, then was caught in a rundown when Nomar Garciaparra grounded into a fielder’s choice. J.D. Drew followed with a broken-bat RBI single to put Los Angeles in front 2-1.
Hernandez got Jeff Kent to ground out with runners on first and second to limit the damage.
He worked around a leadoff walk in the seventh and finished by getting pinch-hitter Marlon Anderson on a broken-bat grounder. Hernandez yielded four hits, one walk and struck out six. Billy Wagner got three outs for his 36th save in 41 chances and 14th straight.
With one out in the sixth, Valentin doubled, bringing Dodgers manager Grady Little out of the dugout. Maddux walked Beltran and was lifted after only 72 pitches, worn out after running the bases.
“I was tired,” Maddux said. “We talked about the intentional walk and I was OK with it.”
Tim Hamulack got Delgado—who hit his 37th homer in the second inning—on a long fly to center before Wright’s hit gave the Mets a 3-2 lead. Hernandez won for the third time in five starts and has allowed only two earned runs in three outings since yielding a career-worst 11 in four innings at Philadelphia on Aug. 15.
Mets RHP Pedro Martinez pitched a four-inning simulated game and reported no problems. Martinez, out since Aug. 15 with a strained right calf, threw 75 pitches—45 in game conditions. He is expected to start next weekend in Pittsburgh. … Delgado was 3-for-21 off Maddux and 2-for-15 on the homestand before his homer. … The Dodgers held a closed-door pregame meeting. Little declined to discuss it.