Ever dream of returning to an old haunt and sticking it to the folks who doubted and disparaged you way back when?
Pedro Martinez lived such a reverie for 7 1/3 innings Sunday at Dodger Stadium, no-hitting the team that traded him 12 years ago because they regarded him as too slight to hold up as a starter.
Eventually every dream ends, though, and it was an especially rude awakening for the New York Met ace.
Antonio Perez tripled off the left-center-field wall and Jayson Werth followed with a 406-foot home run, lifting the Dodgers to a 2-1 victory before a crowd that cheered for Martinez, then cheered louder for Werth.
"I'm just happy to come here and show the fans what I didn't have the time to show them before," Martinez said.
Looking most of the way like another hard-luck Dodger pitcher, Brad Penny (6-7) stood where Martinez wasn't at the end, on the mound with his fist in the air after notching his first complete game since April 4, 2002.
"That was a pitching matchup that lived up to its potential," Dodger Manager Jim Tracy said. "As the game unfolded, the way Pedro was throwing his changeup to left-handed hitters, you knew he was on his game."
Tracy said he greeted Penny at the bat rack after the Mets scored in the fifth inning on doubles by Victor Diaz and Gerald Williams and told his pitcher he would have to win, 2-1. What he didn't say was that without a reliable closer, the outcome would remain in Penny's hands.
Penny threw 122 pitches, walked none and scattered 10 hits. It might have been only symbolic, but it seemed as if the unpredictable biceps injury he suffered last season and fretted about throughout spring training was finally behind him.
"A lot of managers would have taken me out after eight," he said. "He gave me an opportunity to win the game."
Penny had plenty left, beginning the ninth by striking out Mike Piazza on a 97-mph fastball. But Marlon Anderson doubled and stole third by getting a huge jump. Tracy pulled the infield in and Penny jammed Diaz, who chopped a ground ball to second base.
Perez, playing to give Jeff Kent a day off, made a strong throw to catcher Dioner Navarro, who tagged out Anderson. Penny ended the game by fanning Kaz Matsui, his ninth strikeout.
Martinez (12-5), who last pitched at Dodger Stadium eight years earlier to the day in a 1-0 loss as a Montreal Expo, watched forlornly from the Met dugout.
"All of a sudden, two pitches and I lost it," he said. "I did whatever possible, but I blew it at the end."
At age 33 and probably headed for Cooperstown, the three-time Cy Young Award winner again earned the respect of his opponents.
"He's just good," Werth said. "His fastball was registering only 86-88 mph, when years before it was 98. To pitch the way he does and do what he did today tells you he is special."
Nobody felt more special than Perez, who like Martinez is from the Dominican Republic. He knew the Dodgers were hitless when he came to the plate in the eighth because, he said, "I saw the zero on the scoreboard."
"He's my favorite pitcher from the Dominican and he always will be," Perez said. "Every Dominican player feels that way."
The Mets (59-58) ended a difficult West Coast swing in the toughest way imaginable. They lost outfielders Carlos Beltran and Mike Cameron in a collision at San Diego on Thursday and are in last place in the National League East despite being six games better than the Dodgers.
"To get a game snatched like that, it is gut-wrenching really," Piazza said.
Every other National League West team lost for the second day in a row, meaning the Dodgers (53-64) pulled within five games of first-place San Diego and two games of Arizona. Talk of repeating as champions despite being 16 games behind where they were a year ago just won't die in a division where every team is under .500.
"There's a lot of baseball to be played," Werth said. "There are a lot of things that can happen. We see some good pitchers this week, so we'll have to be ready."
The Dodgers begin a seven-game trip by facing John Smoltz and Tim Hudson of Atlanta. Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett figure to greet them at Florida by the weekend. But after squeaking past Martinez, anything seems possible.