NEW YORK – Mets 4, Dodgers 1
Once he arrived in the clubhouse, however, Glavine was calm as could be. And that's exactly how he pitched Thursday night.
"For some reason, once I got to the ballpark," he said, "everything just kind of fell into place and I felt extremely relaxed when I got out there on the field."
Making his 33rd postseason start — but first since joining the Mets in 2003 — Glavine tossed six shutout innings and New York scratched out enough offense to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-1 for a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five NL playoff series.
Thanks to their steady lefty, the otherwise pitching-depleted Mets are on the cusp of a first-round sweep.
"This is the opportunity that I wanted to have here in New York," said Glavine, grateful to be healthy after a blood-clot scare in August. "I understand the opportunity that's in front of me and I understand the expectations on this team, and certainly on me as a player."
Jose Reyes drove in two runs from the leadoff spot, 48-year-old pinch-hitter Julio Franco hustled to beat out a potential double-play ball for an RBI, and Wagner earned his second consecutive save.
But suddenly, New York is one win from the NL championship series.
"A beautifully pitched ballgame," Mets managerWillie Randolph said. "Big-money pitcher."
The Mets will go for the sweep Saturday in Los Angeles against Greg Maddux, who has 333 career wins. Steve Trachsel will pitch for New York.
"We're in a tight spot," Dodgers manager Grady Little said. "We've got to come out ready to win three in a row."
The Dodgers dropped to 1-11 in the postseason since winning the 1988 World Series.
They also lost Nomar Garciaparra in the sixth inning because of a leg injury — he hobbled across first on an infield hit in the fourth. The All-Star first baseman has been playing with a strained left quadriceps. His status for Game 3 was uncertain.
The matchup at Shea was the second of two playoff games in New York on Thursday. Up in the Bronx, Detroit beat the Yankees 4-3 in the afternoon.
The Mets were the only team in the first round to win its first two home games. They capitalized on an embarrassing baserunning blunder for a 6-5 victory in Game 1, when the Dodgers had two runners cut down at home plate on one bizarre play.
The 40-year-old Glavine, with 290 major league wins, was facing a 25-year-old rookie who owns one.
Hong-Chih Kuo shut out the Mets for six innings on Sept. 8 at Shea in his only big league victory. That was one reason he got the start in this one. The Dodgers also figured a lefty might have success against New York's lineup — the Mets struggled down the stretch vs. left-handed starters.
But this time, New York fouled off many of Kuo's tough pitches and chased him in the fifth.
"We just made him pitch a little bit. We had some at-bats where we taxed him a little bit," Randolph said.
Glavine was at his deceptive best — changing speeds, nipping the corners and escaping jams. With runners at first and third in the fifth, he got Kenny Lofton on an inning-ending grounder, then calmly handed Lofton's shattered stick to a Dodgers bat boy.
"It was the wrong guy for us to face," Dodgers slugger Jeff Kent said. "A lot of pitches just off the plate, and you get frustrated."
Glavine, who beat Los Angeles twice during the regular season, gave up only four hits in his first playoff win since 2001 with Atlanta. After making the playoffs year after year with the Braves, he improved to 13-15 in the postseason with a 3.34 ERA.
"I know I've lost a lot of close games in the postseason," Glavine said. "For me, I don't feel as though I have anything to prove. I'm proud of what I've done. I'm proud of what I've accomplished. I'm just trying to live in the moment."
Wilson Betemit homered for the Dodgers off Aaron Heilman in the eighth.
The Mets forced Kuo to throw 51 pitches in the second and third innings alone. Super sub Endy Chavez, starting in right field instead of Shawn Green, dropped a beautiful drag bunt for a hit to open the third. He scampered around the bases on a wild pitch and Glavine's tapper, then scored on Reyes' RBI groundout.
"I told you I like Endy. I love him, actually," Randolph said. "The guy can play, that's why he's in the game. No more questions about Endy. He's a big part or our offense and a big part of our team. It's been that way all year."
Jose Valentin drew a leadoff walk from Kuo in the fifth, Chavez singled and Glavine put down a typically perfect sacrifice. Paul Lo Duca's sacrifice fly made it 2-0.
The Mets loaded the bases in the sixth on two singles and a throwing error by reliever Brett Tomko. Franco beat out a potential double-play ball to make it 3-0.
"It's amazing how he competes," Randolph said. "That was a huge play for us."
Reyes added a two-out RBI single.
Cardinals 2, Padres 0
Not even San Diego native David Wells could save the Padres, who appear to be headed for their same ol' postseason fate against the St. Louis Cardinals. Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds hit RBI singles off Wells in the fourth inning and Jeff Weaver held the popgun Padres in check to lead the Cardinals to a 2-0 win Thursday at Petco Park and a 2-0 lead in the division series.
The two-time NL West champion Padres spoke about going deep into this postseason. Heck, if they don't start hitting the ball, they might not go deep into this weekend.
San Diego has now lost nine straight postseason games dating to its World Series sweep at the hands of the New York Yankees in 1998.
Pujols got three more hits after homering in the 5-1 victory in Game 1.
Weaver, dumped by the Los Angeles Angels with a 3-10 record, and four relievers combined on a four-hitter. The Padres have only 10 hits in the first two games and are 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
Game 3 is Saturday at St. Louis. Game 4 would be Sunday, if necessary, but history suggests otherwise. St. Louis, which barely avoided one of the biggest September collapses ever, improved to 8-0 in the postseason against San Diego. That includes division series sweeps last year and in 1996.
In those eight games, San Diego has led for only four innings, all in Game 3 in 1996. They ended up losing that game 7-5 when Brian Jordan, who made a spectacular diving catch in the eighth inning, hit a two-run homer off Trevor Hoffman in the ninth, with the ball landing in a palm tree beyond the left-field fence at Qualcomm Stadium.
Overall, the Padres haven't led in a postseason game since being up 3-2 against the Yankees after seven innings of Game 3 of the '98 Series. Scott Brosius stunned the Padres with a three-run homer off Hoffman in the eighth inning — his second shot of the night — and the Yankees won 5-4.
Weaver, making his second postseason start, outpitched Wells, who was making his 17th postseason start and 27th appearance dating to 1989.
Weaver gave up two singles in five scoreless innings, allowing only two Padres baserunners as far as second base. He struck out three and walked three.
Relievers Randy Flores, Josh Kinney, Tyler Johnson and Adam Wainwright pitched four innings of two-hit ball. Wainwright got the last four outs for the save.
Padres rookie Josh Barfield doubled off Wainwright with two outs in the eighth before Adrian Gonzalez grounded to second.
Weaver struggled so badly with the Angels this year that he was traded to make room in their rotation for his younger brother, Jered. But he earned this start by going 4-1 with a 4.03 ERA in eight road starts with St. Louis.
The Padres obtained the 43-year-old Wells from the Boston Red Sox on Aug. 31, mostly because of his history of postseason success, which included World Series championships with Toronto in 1992 and the Yankees in 1998, when he beat San Diego in Game 1.
Wells, who said he'll retire when the season ends, lost his third straight postseason start, allowing two runs and seven hits in five innings. He struck out two and walked none. Overall, the hefty lefty is 10-5 in the postseason.
The Padres had only six hits on Tuesday, when they lost 5-1 to Chris Carpenter. Pujols launched the Cardinals in that victory with a two-run homer off Padres ace Jake Peavy.
Preston Wilson hit Wells' first pitch of the fourth inning over left fielder Dave Roberts' head for a double. The Padres chose to pitch to Pujols, who lined a fastball into left to score Wilson. The Padres caught Pujols in a rundown, but shortstop Geoff Blum didn't get over to the bag in time and the slugger slid into second.
Pujols took third on Juan Encarnacion's grounder for the second out and scored on Edmonds' hit deep to the hole at second. Todd Walker smothered the ball but had no play. Roberts ended the inning with a nice diving catch of Ronnie Belliard's fly ball.
Encarnacion was thrown out at home by Roberts trying to score on Ronnie Belliard's single to medium left field, ending the second inning. Belliard tried to kick the ball out of Bard's glove, but he held on.
The Padres stranded seven runners, two each in the first and fifth innings.
Tigers 4, Yankees 3
Justin Verlander and Detroit's bullpen held down the New York Yankees' mighty offense, bringing just enough 100 mph heat to send the Tigers home with a split.
Curtis Granderson hit a go-ahead triple off Mike Mussina in the seventh inning to cap a comeback from a two-run deficit, and the Tigers beat the Yankees 4-3 Thursday to even their best-of-five AL playoff series at one game apiece.
"I hope in my heart everybody realizes we are a playoff team," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I'm not sure everybody believed that."
After the threat of rain caused a postponement Wednesday night, the skies were sunny for the rare postseason day game at Yankee Stadium. But before a somewhat stunned crowd of 56,252, the wild-card Tigers ended a six-game losing streak that stretched to the final week of the regular season.
Verlander, his pitches reaching triple-digits on the radar gun, allowed his only runs on Johnny Damon's fourth-inning homer, which put New York ahead 3-1.
"Verlander did one whale of a job," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
Jamie Walker, Joel Zumaya and Todd Jones finished with one-hit relief.
Zumaya topped out at 102 mph, according to the center-field scoreboard. Walker got the win, relieving Verlander in the sixth with a man on and a 1-1 count on Robinson Cano and inducing an inning-ending double play.
Leyland didn't hesitate to take out Verlander in the middle of an at-bat.
"I just didn't like the fastball before that. It was 92," Leyland said. "I said, 'That's it. I'm going to make my move now.'"
Said Verlander: "He's a great skip. When he comes out to take me out of a ballgame, I never second-guess him."
Jones pitched the ninth for the save, giving up a leadoff single to Hideki Matsui. But Jones, a soft tosser when compared to the Tigers' other hard throwers, struck out Jorge Posada, retired Cano on a soft fly and got Damon to fly out.
New York, an overwhelming favorite with All-Stars at every position, won Tuesday's opener 8-4 and had plenty of chances early in this one. But the Yankees struck out nine times and went 1-for-8 with men in scoring position.
Alex Rodriguez had another tough day at the plate, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, including one that ended the first with the bases loaded.
A-Rod, booed loudly after his final two at-bats, hasn't driven in a run in his last 10 postseason games and is 5-for-40 (.125) in his last 11. He's 1-for-8 with four strikeouts in this series.
When the series resumes in Detroit on Friday night, Randy Johnson (17-11) will test his balky back for New York, opposed by former-Yankee Kenny Rogers (17-8). Because of the rainout, the teams lost their travel day.
Damon's three-run homer into the right-field upper deck erased an early Detroit lead created by Marcus Thames' second-inning RBI single. But the Tigers tied it at 3 on Granderson's fifth-inning sacrifice fly and Carlos Guillen's sixth-inning homer into the right-field lower deck.
Thames singled leading off the seventh for his third hit of the game, took second on Posada's passed ball and went to third when No. 9 hitter Brandon Inge sacrificed.
New York moved the infield in and Granderson fell behind 0-2 and fouled off two more pitches before lining the ball to the wall in left-center. With the infield still in, Placido Polanco lined to Rodriguez, who made a dive to the third-base bag and nearly doubled up Polanco. Sean Casey then flied out.
"We never give up. That's the main thing," said Thames, a former Yankees draft pick.
Verlander, a 23-year-old rookie who went 17-9 during the regular season, kept getting in and out of trouble early. New York loaded the bases in the first on Damon's single and a pair of walks. But, after a mound visit from pitching coach Chuck Hernandez, Verlander got Rodriguez to miss a 99 mph fastball and foul off a 100 mph fastball before freezing him with an offspeed pitch for a third strike.
New York got its first two runners on in the second but failed to score, and Gary Sheffield followed Bobby Abreu's leadoff walk in the third by grounding into a double play.
Then in the fourth, Matsui singled and Posada walked after falling behind 0-2. One out later, Damon turned on a fastball and sent it into the second row of the upper deck. After circling the bases and going to the dugout, he emerged for a curtain call, waving his helmet to the crowd.
Derek Jeter followed with a double, but Verlander rebounded to retire his next five batters before Posada's one-out single in the sixth brought up Cano.
Verlander allowed seven hits and four walks in 5 1-3 innings with five strikeouts. While he was making his first postseason start, Mussina made his 21st and dropped to 7-8.
Mussina's big curveball was sharp, but he made just enough mistakes to lose.
Craig Monroe doubled just fair down the left-field line in the second and Thames singled to center on the next pitch. Thames doubled to left leading off the fifth, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Granderson's fly to short center, easily beating Damon's weak throw. Guillen's homer was his second in postseason play.