LOS ANGELES (AP)—Shawn Green glided toward the right-field foul line to make the final catch, just as he envisioned.
Green and the hitters started fast, Billy Wagner closed it out quickly and the New York Mets completed their first postseason sweep since 1969, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-5 in Game 3 Saturday night.
After rolling in the first round, the Mets will open the NLCS at Shea Stadium on Wednesday against the San Diego-St. Louis winner. The Cardinals lead 2-1 in that best-of-five series.
“We played all kind of ball,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “We played long ball, small ball. Whatever it takes to get it done.”
Wagner got the final out in all three games, retiring pinch-hitter Ramon Martinez on a fly ball to Green to finish the series.
“The irony of this is crazy, to be celebrating in the visiting clubhouse,” said Green, who played for the Dodgers from 2000-04 and was acquired by the Mets from Arizona on Aug. 22.
“It’s a little weird, after doing this in ’04 on the other side of the field,” he said. “I was actually out there hoping that the last ball came to me, and it did. It feels incredible.”
Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca was moved to tears when he was traded by the Dodgers to Florida in July 2004. Sent to the Mets last offseason, he has no regrets now.
“There’s a lot of guys in here who want to prove something,” he said. “It’s a good feeling to get it done,” he said.
It was a familiar ending for the Dodgers, who are 1-12 in postseason games since 1988, when they beat the Mets in the NLCS and the Oakland Athletics in the World Series.
Jeff Kent had four hits, including a two-run homer, for Los Angeles.
“We just got outplayed—pitching, hitting, defense—but there’s no sense in being specific,” Kent said. “It doesn’t really matter. We got beat by a team that was playing better baseball than us.
“We got, what, 16 hits and scored five runs? That’s one you shake your head at and wonder why. They got two less hits than we did and scored almost twice as many runs.”
The Mets, with Randolph guiding a roster assembled by general manager Omar Minaya, had the NL East championship virtually wrapped up by the All-Star break, and went on to win a league-high 97 games.
That turned out not to be the case because the Mets scored 19 runs in the three games, and their bullpen did its job.
“This is small step,” Wagner said. “We’re excited today, but we know Wednesday we have to get ready again. We know there’s a lot we want to accomplish.”
The relievers needed to come through—Mets starters pitched only 13 2-3 innings in the series.
Hardly a repeat from 1969, when the Tom Seaver-led Mets swept the best-of-five NLCS from Atlanta.
“When El Duque and Pedro went down, we bounced back,” Lo Duca said. “I didn’t get to pop the champagne here in 2004. I did in 2006. It’s a happy day.”
Lo Duca said he didn’t watch any of the Dodgers’ postseason action in 2004.
While the Mets were breezing into this postseason, the streaky Dodgers won their last seven games of the regular season to earn the wild-card berth.
Perhaps they ran out of energy against New York. The Dodgers certainly ran themselves out of a chance in Game 1 when they had two runners tagged out at the plate on the same play.
Pedro Feliciano, the fourth of seven New York pitchers, earned the victory. He got just one out, but it was a big one, as he retired pinch-hitter Nomar Garciaparra on a grounder to the box with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth and the Mets trailing 5-4.
The Mets took a 7-5 lead in the sixth by scoring three runs off losing pitcher Jonathan Broxton on consecutive one-out RBI singles by Jose Reyes, Lo Duca and Carlos Beltran—all softly-hit balls that fell in front of charging outfielders.
It could have been worse for the Dodgers, but Lo Duca, who drew a one-out walk, was thrown out trying to take third on Beltran’s hit, and first baseman James Loney made a leaping catch of Jose Valentin’s liner to end the inning.
The Mets got another run in the third on a two-out single by Floyd and an RBI double by Green—a ball that hit the top of the left-field fence over the leaping Marlon Anderson.
Loney, a rookie replacing the injured Garciaparra at first base, hit a two-run single in the fourth to chase Trachsel.
The Dodgers took a 5-4 lead by scoring three runs in the fifth after Oliver retired the first two batters. Anderson singled and Kent followed with a two-run homer.
J.D. Drew singled to chase Oliver, Russell Martin singled off Chad Bradford, and Betemit walked to load the bases. Feliciano relieved and walked Loney to force home the tiebreaking run before retiring Garciaparra, who was limited to pinch-hitting duties after tearing his left quadriceps in Game 2.
“We’ve been doing that all year,” Wright said of the Mets’ success in rallying. “We’re a resilient team. It seems when we get down, it pushes us, motivates us more to take the lead.”
Kent’s ground-rule double in the sixth put runners at second and third with two outs, but Guillermo Mota retired Drew on a fly to center. Mota, another former Dodger, worked two scoreless inning before Aaron Heilman and Wagner finished with one inning each.
Neither starter lasted long. Trachsel, making his postseason debut at age 35, allowed six hits and two runs in 3 1-3 innings.
The 40-year-old Maddux, a winner of 333 career games and making his 30th postseason start, gave up seven hits and four runs in four innings.
“I think a lot of guys were trying to hit the first good strike,” Green said. “Everyone knows how crafty he is. But we came right out that first inning and got a bunch of hits in a row, and that was the key.”
Floyd was replaced in left field by Endy Chavez in the bottom of the third because of what the Mets called a strained left Achilles. … Wright has hit safely in 15 straight games—the final 12 of the regular season and all three in the division series. … Rafael Furcal and Kenny Lofton, who bat 1-2 in the Dodgers’ lineup, went a combined 3-of-24 in the series. They hit .300 and stole 59 bases between them during the regular season.