LOS ANGELES -- It wasn't on the promotional calendar, but Sunday at Dodger Stadium was turn-back-the-clock day. Nomar Garciaparra looked like a home-run hitter again. Derek Lowe was a reliever again. Eric Stults delivered a clutch emergency start again. But just like last October, the Mets were better than the Dodgers again. Matt Kemp, a hero Saturday, misplayed a routine fly ball into a crushing error that let a ninth-inning lead get away and the Mets won it in the 10th inning, 5-4.
Dodgers relievers suffered two blown saves while suffering closer Takashi Saito has an MRI scheduled for Monday morning on his bothersome shoulder blade. Trainer Stan Conte said Saito's discomfort was easing. But the 37-year-old has been unavailable for four consecutive days, so the disabled list becomes increasingly viable. With Saito out, manager Grady Little needed to perform another magic act with his shuffled pitching staff and the job didn't get done. Stults, whose only Major League victory came against the Mets last September, pitched 5 1/3 innings and was staked to a lead on Rafael Furcal's leadoff home run and James Loney's fourth-inning RBI double, but when Jose Reyes and Lastings Milledge strung one-out extra-base hits in the sixth to make it 2-1, his day was done. "He pitched well enough to win a ballgame," Little said of Stults, who made 80 pitches in his first start since June 29 for Triple-A Las Vegas. Little brought in Rudy Seanez, who allowed David Wright's tying broken-bat bloop single. But Garciaparra, again showing the slump of his life might be over, slugged a two-run homer off Orlando Hernandez in bottom of the sixth, his second homer in three games, to give the Dodgers another two-run lead. Little needed three innings out of his bullpen, so he turned to his starting rotation. He had Lowe pitch the seventh inning instead of throwing a bullpen session and it went 1-2-3. Little said he didn't send Lowe out for the eighth inning because he wanted him fresh to pitch Wednesday in Houston. Instead, he gave the ball to 42-year-old Roberto Hernandez, who allowed a leadoff double to Reyes (as he did Friday night), a line drive comebacker by Milledge that nearly broke Hernandez's middle finger on his glove hand (but he gutted out the rest of the inning) and a sacrifice fly to Carlos Beltran. Hernandez said X-rays were negative and he would be available Monday. Jonathan Broxton, the closer-in-training who had a 1 2/3-inning save Saturday, came on in the ninth to protect the 4-3 lead. He allowed a sharp bad-hop leadoff single by Carlos Delgado off the glove of first baseman Loney, then a crucial wild pitch that allowed pinch-runner Anderson Hernandez to take second. Without the wild pitch, Hernandez might have been erased on Paul Lo Duca's groundout to shortstop Furcal behind second base, which instead allowed Hernandez to advance to third. Shawn Green then lifted a popup to shallow right field, but Kemp, who has had problems getting proper breaks lately, initially reacted as if the ball was deep. When he realized otherwise, it was too late. He sprinted toward the infield and the ball glanced off his outstretched glove as Hernandez scored the tying run. "No excuses," said Kemp. "I got a bad jump and just missed the ball. Everybody makes mistakes and I made one and it was pretty costly. We lost the game because of it." The Mets won it in the 10th on three singles off D.J. Houlton. The Dodgers tried to tag Mets closer Billy Wagner with a blown save and he nearly cooperated by issuing a pair of walks (one intentional) and a wild pitch. But he also struck out the side, ending the game by catching Garciaparra for a called third strike with a backdoor slider with runners on second and third. "An impossible pitch," said Garciaparra. As a result, the Dodgers lost three of four to the Mets, although the entire NL West lost, so they remain a game in front of San Diego. "You make mistakes against a good team, it doesn't take much for them to win," said Russell Martin, who went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. "I'm all right. Some days you feel fresher than others, but I'll go out there no matter how I feel. You go through phases and you just have to battle through them."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.