Mets complete sweep of Dodgers, advance to NLCSOct 8, 2006 - 4:02 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- After storming through the regular season, the New York Mets blooped their way into the National League Championship Series.
The Mets received soft RBI singles from six different players and got a strong effort from their bullpen as they completed a three-game sweep of their NL Division Series with a 9-5 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
With the win, the Mets advance to the NLCS for the first time since 2000, when they eventually lost to the crosstown rival Yankees in the World Series. But a "Subway Series" no longer is a possibility this year as the "Bronx Bombers" were eliminated by the surprising Detroit Tigers earlier Saturday.
"It can't get any better than today for our fans," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said. "We'll be talking National League baseball in New York all week and that's great."
The Mets now await either St. Louis or San Diego. The Cardinals currently lead their series, two games to one, and will host Game Four on Sunday.
"I think we're all excited about it," said Mets lefthander Tom Glavine, the winning pitcher in Game Two. "We've been fighting for our place and this is our opportunity to shine in the city."
After relying on starters John Maine and Glavine - who combined to yield just one run in 10 1/3 innings - in Games One and Two, the Mets were hoping for a similar performance from Steve Trachsel, but it was not to be.
The veteran righthander did not make it out of the fourth inning and reliever Darren Oliver was hit hard in his 1 1/3 frames. But the final five pitchers for the Mets combined to toss 4 1/3 scoreless innings to seal the win.
"I challenged (the bullpen) earlier today and told them we were going to need them," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "They've answered the bell all year and tonight was no different."
Paul Lo Duca and Shawn Green - both former Dodgers - drove in two runs apiece for the Mets, who got three bloop RBI singles in the first inning, three more in the sixth and another in the eighth.
"We'll take small ball, big ball, whatever it takes to get the job done," Randolph said.
"I think we played better baseball," Dodgers second baseman Jeff Kent said. "They just had more luck."
Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, David Wright and Cliff Floyd each added run-scoring base hits for the Mets. However, Floyd's status for the NLCS is in doubt after the oft-injured left fielder strained his left Achilles tendon running the bases in the third inning.
Making his 30th career playoff start - first with Los Angeles - Greg Maddux was charged with four runs and seven hits in four frames. Jonathan Broxton (0-1) surrendered three runs in the sixth to take the loss.
James Loney drove in three runs, including one with a bases-loaded walk against Pedro Feliciano (1-0) in the fifth that gave the Dodgers a 5-4 lead.
Kent went 4-for-5 with a two-run homer for Los Angeles, which looked nothing like the team that closed the regular season on a seven-game winning streak. The Dodgers still have not won a playoff series since capturing the 1988 World Series.
"We played hard to get where we are," Kent said. "We didn't run out of gas, we ran out of fortune specifically today."
The Mets pounced on Maddux in the first inning, scoring three runs - all on bloop singles to left. Wright made it 1-0 with a flare over the head of third baseman Wilson Betemit, Floyd added an RBI single that fell in front of left fielder Marlon Anderson and Green capped the rally by punching a ball to the opposite field.
"We wanted to be aggressive and take our swings and not be over-patient," Green said. "We were able to slap the ball where the defense wasn't and that worked out for us." "Texas Leaguers were falling in in a playoff game like I've never seen before," Kent said. "We couldn't defend that."
Green pushed the advantage to 4-0 in the third with an RBI double off the top of the left field wall. However, Floyd came up limping as he rounded third on the play. He managed to hobble home and slide in safely but clearly was in considerable pain and was replaced by Endy Chavez in left field.
Loney delivered a two-run single in the fourth to halve the deficit before Los Angeles took its only lead with a two-out rally in the fifth.
After Oliver retired the first two hitters, Anderson reached on a single and Kent - also a former Met - sent the first pitch he saw into the left field stands to tie it. The Dodgers then loaded the bases against Oliver and Chad Bradford before Feliciano came on and walked Loney to force in the go-ahead run.
But the Mets wasted no time regaining the lead, scoring three times against Broxton in the top of the sixth to take control.
Green led off with a double and pinch hitter Michael Tucker drew a one-out walk. Reyes, Lo Duca and Beltran then delivered consecutive bloop RBI singles to put the Mets back ahead, 7-5.
"It's always frustrating out there when they string together a bunch of bloops like that," Broxton said. "You don't mind when you give up some hits. But this was really frustrating."
Lo Duca added another run-scoring single on an eighth-inning bloop and later scored on Betemit's throwing error to complete the offense.
Aaron Heilman worked around two hits in the eighth, retiring J.D. Drew on an inning-ending grounder. Billy Wagner allowed a two-out single by Loney in the ninth before getting Ramon Martinez to foul out to right field to ignite a controlled celebration by the Mets, who clearly have plenty of business still to attend to.
"I'd be lying if I said this wasn't special to beat my old team," Green said. "There are a few guys that were over here before and it was sweet for all of us to beat them."
"I didn't get to pop the Champagne (with the Dodgers) in 2004," Lo Duca added. "But I will (get to celebrate) in 2006. It's a great day."
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