LOS ANGELES -- Eric Gagne converted his first save in nearly a year on Tuesday night, but the grimace on his face and slow readings of the radar gun told the rest of the story.
Gagne admitted his elbow was "a little sore and stiff" after he put down the Mets in order in the ninth inning of the Dodgers' 8-5 win. Gagne underwent surgery on April 7 to remove a nerve and said he's still not 100 percent two months later, even after a two-game rehabilitation assignment and a one-inning return appearance at Dodger Stadium on Friday night.
Gagne struck out Carlos Delgado on a 2-2 fastball that had some life leading off the ninth. But on an 89-mph fastball to David Wright, Gagne appeared to experience discomfort as he bounced off the mound. He went on to strike out Wright on a changeup.
Endy Chavez flied out on a first-pitch changeup to end the game, but when catcher Russell Martin went out for a handshake, Gagne extended his glove and not his pitching hand. Gagne emerged from the trainer's room 30 minutes after the game still in his uniform.
Throughout his recovery, Gagne has spoken confidently that the surgery solved a problem that also resulted in an operation last summer. He had not mentioned soreness during the most recent recovery.
Although Gagne's discomfort was apparent, he continued to pitch, and nobody from the dugout went to the mound. He twice hit 92 mph with his fastball, but more often was around 89. Afterward, clubhouse comments were carefully worded.
"He got three outs. That's what we've been looking forward to seeing in a save situation," said manager Grady Little. "We look forward to it some more."
When it was suggested to Martin that Gagne grimaced throwing a pitch, the catcher deflected the question and told reporters to ask Gagne himself.
"He threw the ball really well, and hopefully it'll happen a bunch of times," Martin said. "He's a great competitor when he's out there, you can tell."
The game not only marked the defeat of Mets ace Pedro Martinez and the fourth consecutive victory for Dodgers starter Derek Lowe, but also a Major League first -- the all-Canadian battery of Gagne and Martin.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.