Mike Piazza took some hits this series, and, either as a response or a reminder, he delivered a devastating barrage himself.
Knocked out of one game by a foul ball and booed consistently by a large minority of the Dodger Stadium crowds over this four-game series, Piazza emerged triumphant after Monday's 8-3 New York Mets' victory over the Dodgers.
The Mets, battling in a real playoff race, won three of four from the Dodgers, who are not.
And along the way, Piazza, the former Dodger, went eight for 13 in the series (.615), including a three-for-four performance on Monday before 37,806.
Piazza, who was traded May 15 after spurning the Dodgers' lucrative contract offer, hit a home run in the first game of the series, had three hits in the second, was knocked out of the third after taking a foul ball off of his right shoulder, and then came Monday's activity.
"I just wanted to go out and do my job," Piazza said, when asked about the emotions of playing before his former home crowd.
Piazza said he still felt some after-effects of the shoulder injury, but loosened up as the game went along.
"The last week, I've been getting my pitches," Piazza said. "You've got to ride the streak when you can."
Piazza looked especially locked in against Dodger starter Chan Ho Park, a pitcher he had caught many times before.
"Chan Ho threw the ball well," Piazza said. "Fortunately, I got a couple of pitches to hit, and I was able to jump on them."
Said Park, whose first two strikes to Piazza were sent back for hits: "I was pitching inside and outside, but he hit them all. He's a very strong hitter."
Piazza doubled and scored the first run of the game, drove in the second with a line-drive single to right, and never stopped lacing line drives all over the Dodger Stadium outfield.
"He's been on fire lately," said Met Manager Bobby Valentine. "He's just making the ball lopsided.
"The way Piazza has been hitting the ball, if any of those were elevated, they'd be souvenirs."
With Piazza leading the way, and John Olerud pitching in with two hits and two runs, the Mets scored single runs in the first, third, fourth and fifth to take a 4-1 lead.
The victory kept the Mets tied with the Chicago Cubs, who also won, for the wild-card playoff spot, with the Dodgers falling eight games behind.
This was not the first time the Dodgers struggled to score against Met starter Rick Reed (16-7), who threw a complete game to beat them, 2-1, on Aug. 1.
On Monday, the Dodgers got to Reed for nine hits, but because of more errant baserunning and untimely hitting, they were unable to get many runs across.
Meanwhile, Park (11-8) was giving up 10 hits and four runs through seven innings. He gave up a hit in every inning he pitched except the sixth.
The Dodgers' last major threat came in the seventh, when pinch-hitter Roger Cedeno drove in Tom Prince with a blast that caromed off the bottom of the right-field wall.
Reliever Turk Wendell was summoned to replace Reed, and gave up a run-scoring ground ball to Jim Eisenreich to make it 4-3.
But, soon enough, the Met lead was back to two.
Mike Judd started the eighth for the Dodgers, and after he retired Brian McRae, Judd gave up a long home run to Lenny Harris.
After Piazza gave the Mets the lead in the third, once again Dodgers ran themselves into a scoreless inning.
A day after Raul Mondesi was picked off of first, causing a double-play and an injury to Gary Sheffield after he got into a rundown between third and home, the Dodgers had a semi-replay.
With Park on third, he broke for home on Mondesi's hard chopper to third and got into a rundown. Eric Young made it to third from first, and was called out when both he and Park ended up at third.
Eric Karros, batting with two out and runners on first and third--instead of one out and runners on second and third--flied out to end the inning.
The Dodgers scored once in the fourth, after Bobby Bonilla doubled to open the inning and was driven home by a Prince single.
A month after being released, Cleveland's Cecil Fielder can't wait to step up to the plate against former teammates. C4