Dodgers 4, Mets 1
It was a bit of deja vu at Dodger Stadium.
Wilson Betemit, Matt Kemp, and winning pitcher Kuo homered off John Maine on three consecutive pitches, and the Dodgers beat the New York Mets 4-1 Tuesday night to hand the slumping NL East leaders their eighth loss in nine games.
“It’s not the first time we’ve seen that,” Dodgers manager Grady Little said. “It gave us a jump-start to win the game.”
After Russell Martin grounded out to start the second, Betemit hit an 0-1 pitch over the left-center field fence for his sixth homer. Kemp drove Maine’s next pitch just inside the left field foul pole for his first, and Kuo followed by hitting the first homer of his career into the right field pavilion to give the Dodgers a 3-1 lead.
No team has hit three homers on so few pitches since last Sept. 18, on the last three of the four straight hit by the Dodgers in the bottom of the ninth inning in an 11-10, 10-inning victory over San Diego.
The Mets hadn’t allowed three straight homers since April 1, 1997, and five days ago they hit back-to-back-to-back homers against Philadelphia.
“When you leave three pitches across the plate, that’s going to happen,” Maine said. “But you can’t worry about that. It was only 3-1, so it was still a winnable ballgame at that point. Stuff like that happens in a game. I just missed my location.”
Kemp’s homer was estimated at 447 feet, and was the first to reach the loge level since July 27, 2005, when Olmedo Saenz accomplished the feat against Cincinnati. Betemit’s blow was estimated at 408 feet, and Kuo’s went 412 feet.
“He gave us some good pitches to hit, and we took advantage of it,” Kemp said.
Kuo’s only previous hit in 10 at-bats was a double last season. He became the first player born in Taiwan to hit a home run in a big-league game.
“I didn’t mean to do that, but I hit it hard,” Kuo said of flipping his bat.
His last homer?
“Probably in high school,” he replied.
“It really didn’t surprise me much,” Kemp said. “I played with him in Triple-A, I saw him in batting practice. He’s got some pop.”
Kuo (1-1), whose only previous victory came over the Mets last September, allowed five hits and one run in seven innings while walking one and striking out four in his third start this season and the eighth of his career. He has a major league record of 2-7.
Maine (6-4) allowed seven hits and four runs in 5 1-3 innings. He walked two and struck out two.
“Obviously, Johnny made some pitches in the wrong location and they jumped on them,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “It happens very suddenly and very quickly.”
The loss was the seventh straight for the Mets against left-handed starters. Dodgers lefty Randy Wolf was the winning pitcher in a 5-3 Los Angeles victory Monday night.
“Early-season test, gentlemen. Early-season test,” Randolph said. “We’ve got to keep grinding it out and find a way to get a win tomorrow before we go back home.”
Then came the three straight homers, prompting Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson to pay Maine a visit. Whatever Peterson said must have helped, because the Dodgers had only one more hit until Betemit’s sixth-inning single chased Maine.
Kemp greeted reliever Joe Smith with an infield hit to drive in a run and complete the scoring.
Wright’s second-inning single was his 500th lifetime hit and extended his hitting streak to 14 games. He also singled in the sixth. … Dodgers 1B Nomar Garciaparra, mired in a 5-for-30 slump beforehand, returned to the lineup after being held out for two games and went 1-for-4. … Mets RHP Pedro Martinez, who underwent rotator cuff surgery last fall, threw 50 pitches in Port St. Lucie, Fla. He hopes to be pitching with the Mets sometime in August. … The Dodgers have agreed to terms with four players selected in last week’s draft: INF Austin Gallagher (third round), OF Andrew Lambo (fourth round), RHP Andres Santiago (16th round) and INF Franklin Jacobs (17th round).