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Green's Big Cut Slams Mets, 4-1

Dodgers: Right fielder finally solves Leiter with a four-run blast in sixth inning that tags New York starter with his first defeat.

May 30, 2000|JASON REID | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Shawn Green is adjusting to National League pitching and isn't pleased about his performance.

The Dodgers have no complaints.

They believe Green has been better than advertised, and the right fielder continued to impress with his second grand slam of the season Monday afternoon in a 4-1 victory over the New York Mets.

Green hit Met starter Al Leiter's first pitch to him in the sixth inning of a scoreless game, sending the ball over the wall in right-center. The one-out blast, Green's 10th home run, provided a cushion for Dodger starter Chan Ho Park, who outdueled Leiter while working seven shutout innings before 43,084 at Dodger Stadium.

"Greenie has been outstanding," said Manager Davey Johnson, whose team improved to 27-21. "He's quietly going about his business and having a good time."

Park benefited from Green's work Monday.

Park (5-4) overcame six walks and rebounded after a sluggish outing in his last start. Former Dodger catcher Mike Piazza was hitless in two at-bats, walked twice and blocked the plate in the fifth to prevent Eric Karros from scoring on Chad Kreuter's double.

Mike Fetters pitched a scoreless eighth, but closer Jeff Shaw had problems again. Johnson used Shaw in a non-save situation to try to boost his confidence, but the struggling pitcher gave up two hits and a run in the ninth.

Fortunately for the Dodgers, Green provided enough offense with one swing.

His second grand slam in nine days helped Park earn his first victory in more than two weeks and lifted the team to a record for the most grand slams by the Los Angeles franchise in a season with seven. The Brooklyn Dodgers hit eight grand slams in 1952.

Green may not be completely comfortable--but the Dodgers are with him.

"That's just Greenie," left fielder Gary Sheffield said. "You know how he feels about his own performance, but everyone else can see what he's meant to this team.

"Leiter was out there dealing, and he had Shawn's number in his first two at-bats, but it didn't faze him. He's the type of hitter who always makes adjustments, he made an adjustment and you see what happened."

Green struck out swinging in the first and grounded out in the fourth against Leiter (5-1). The left-hander's cut fastball tails away from left-handed batters such as Green and moves in on right-handed batters.

Leiter used the pitch to keep the Dodgers guessing until the decisive sixth. Jose Vizcaino singled to start the inning and advanced to second on Park's sacrifice bunt.

Then Leiter got wild.

He hit F.P. Santangelo and Mark Grudzielanek with consecutive pitches, loading the bases with Green on deck. Green crushed Leiter's first pitch--a cut fastball he expected that time.

"Leiter was hitting his spots against me the whole game," said Green, who hit his first grand slam of the season May 21 against the Florida Marlins. "I knew he would try to get ahead of me. Once he got ahead of me he would have a lot of different options, so I was trying to control the at-bat.

"He left one out over the plate to me, and fortunately I was able to get one. Other than that, he pitched a great game."

At least his first five innings were, Leiter said.

"I was frustrated," the Met starter said of the sixth. "I felt like I could make a good pitch on Shawn. Three pitches were the whole game."

Park took it one pitch at a time. He often struggles when he thinks too much but remained focus Monday with catcher Kreuter's help.

He gave up only two hits and struck out six. Park lowered his earned-run average from 5.01 to 4.48.

"[Pitcher Kevin Brown] tells me to just think one pitch at a time," said Park, who threw 64 strikes in 115 pitches. "I really worked on that."

And Park was aggressive, Kreuter said.

"He was a little tentative trying to finesse guys in the [strike] zone [in his last game]," Park's batterymate said. "He learned from his mistakes his last game."

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