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Clutch Wright Carries Mets Past Dodgers

September 9, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) _ David Wright went 3-for-3, including a go-ahead, two-run single, and Orlando Hernandez allowed one earned run in seven innings to lift the New York Mets to a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday.

Wright smacked a single into center field with two outs in the sixth off Brett Tomko, the third Dodgers pitcher of the inning, scoring Jose Valentin and Carlos Beltran.

The Mets won for the second time in three games against the Dodgers in the matchup of NL division leaders. New York lowered its magic number for clinching the East to six, while Los Angeles’ lead out West was trimmed to one game over San Diego, which played later at San Francisco.

Greg Maddux was staked to a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth but left as the losing pitcher because of his intentional walk to Beltran _ his last hitter earning the 40-year-old right-hander’s only free pass.

Maddux (12-13) lost his second straight start and fell to 3-2 in eight outings with the Dodgers. He allowed all three runs and five hits in 5 1-3 innings, quite an improvement from his previous two starts this season against New York when he gave up 12 earned runs in 13 innings with Chicago.

Hernandez (10-10) was masterful, keeping the Dodgers off balance with changeups, curves and sliders that hovered in the 70-80 mph range, and fastballs that reached the low 90s.

After Rafael Furcal’s leadoff double on the second pitch of the game, El Duque retired 15 straight hitters before running into trouble in the sixth.

No. 8 hitter Russell Martin singled to center and advanced to second when Maddux faked a bunt and swung away. Shortstop Jose Reyes was covering second, and had to range back deep in the hole to field the grounder. His throw to first bounced in and out of the glove of first baseman Carlos Delgado, allowing Maddux to reach on the error.

Furcal sacrificed the runners to second and third, and Kenny Lofton drove in Martin with a single to center. Maddux advanced to third on the base hit but was caught in a rundown when Nomar Garciaparra grounded into a fielder’s choice. J.D. Drew followed with a broken-bat RBI single to center to put Los Angeles in front 2-1.

Hernandez then got Jeff Kent to ground out with runners on first and second to limit the damage.

Hernandez worked around a leadoff walk in the seventh and finished by getting Marlon Anderson on a broken-bat grounder to end the inning. He yielded four hits and struck out six. Billy Wagner got three outs for his 36th save in 41 chances.

With one out in the sixth, Valentin doubled, bringing Dodgers manager Grady Little out of the dugout. Maddux then walked Beltran and was lifted after only 72 pitches. Tim Hamulack got Delgado _ who hit his 37th homer in the second inning _ on a long fly to center before Wright’s hit gave the Mets a 3-2 lead.

Hernandez won for the third time in five starts and has allowed only two earned runs in three outings since yielding a career-worst 11 in four innings at Philadelphia on Aug. 15.

Notes: Mets RHP Pedro Martinez pitched a four-inning simulated game and reported no problems. Martinez, out since Aug. 15 with a strained right calf, threw 75 pitches _ 45 in game conditions. He is expected to start next weekend in Pittsburgh. ... Delgado was 3-for-21 off Maddux and 2-for-15 on the homestand before his homer. ... The Dodgers held a closed-door pregame meeting. Little declined to discuss it. ... Hamulack made his major league debut with the Mets last year after 10 minor league seasons.

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