Ted Lilly was solid in his first major league game in 11 months, and Matt Kemp's long-awaited first home run of the season was so nice the umpires wanted to see it twice. But it wasn't enough for the Dodgers, as the Mets chipped away to tie it, then won on a walk-off grand slam by Jordany Valdespin in the 10th inning for a 7-3 New York triumph.
Josh Wall has two major league decisions in his brief 11-game career. Both have come at Citi Field, in extra innings. He won his major league debut last July 22, but suffered the loss on Wednesday. With runners on second and third and one out, manager Don Mattingly walked Lucas Duda intentionally to load the bases and brought in Luis Cruz for the five-man infield.
But down 2-1 in the count, Wall made a pitch that Valdespin launched where no fielding formation could defend it.
The loss snapped a five-game winning streak at Citi Field for the Dodgers, who were one out from victory on Wednesday night.
Of the three pitching matchups this series, Lilly against Matt Harvey looked to be the most heavily slanted in New York's favor. But on Wednesday Lilly nearly matched the young flamethrower pitch for pitch, even if not literally.
Lilly got through five innings and struck out seven, the same number as Harvey. Lilly found himself in a pair of jams, stranding the bases loaded in the second inning and allowing three straight hits to start the fifth inning. The three hits resulted in the Mets tying the game at 1-1, but Lilly sandwiched strikeouts to David Wright and Ike Davis around a ground out to get out of the threat.
Harvey got into a groove of his own into the sixth inning as he retired six straight and 16 of 17 batters before walking Adrian Gonzalez with two outs. Matt Kemp followed by crushing a ball down the right field line that bounced back into play and was at first called an RBI triple. But upon further review, replays showed the ball went over the wall for Kemp's first home run of the season, and a 3-1 lead.
It was the first home run for Kemp since Sep .30, 2012, and snapped a span of 93 plate appearances without a long ball, tied for the fourth-longest home run drought of Kemp's career.
That lead was put in immediate jeopardy in the sixth inning when relief pitcher J.P. Howell walked the first two batters he faced. Then he induced a potential double play ball up the middle were it not for Howell himself slowing the ball down after it hit his glove. The Dodgers got one out but the tying runs were put into scoring position.
Ronald Belisario, who had allowed all six of his inherited runners to score this season, was brought into a tough situation. He retired both batters he faced in the sixth, and though the first out was a fly ball that plated a run that was a net positive result for Belisario. It got even better for Belisario in the seventh as he retired all three batters in order, and in the series has retired all eight batters he faced including four by strikeout.
The Mets staged a rally off Kenley Jansen in the eighth inning when Marlon Byrd doubled with one out. Lucas Duda followed with a ground ball that had eyes for right field but Mark Ellis saved the tying run from scoring with a diving stop to get Duda at first base and hold Byrd at third base. Jansen got Jordany Valdespin to ground out to end the inning and preserve the one-run advantage.
Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 25, 2013
New York rallied again of Brandon League in the ninth, when Mike Baxter doubled to left field on a ball Carl Crawford probably should have caught to lead off the inning. But after a sacrifice bunt moved Baxter to third base, Jerry Hairston made an even better defensive play, reaching into the stands to catch Daniel Murphy's foul pop for the second out.
But Wright followed with a single to right field to score the tying run, handing League his first blown save of the season.
Clayton Kershaw, who started on the mound Tuesday, appeared Wednesday as a pinch-hitter and laid down a sacrifice bunt in the 10th inning. It was the second pinch-hitting appearance of Kershaw's career, with the last coming on July 22, 2012, the same game in which Wall made his major league debut.
Hyun-jin Ryu goes for the series win in Thursday morning's finale, a 10:10 a.m. PT start that will be on Prime Ticket. Jeremy Hefner gets the call on the mound for New York.
Home run: Matt Kemp (1), Jordany Valdespin (1)
WP - Bobby Parnell (1-0): 1 IP, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
LP - Josh Wall (0-1): ⅓ IP, 2 hit, 4 runs, 2 walks