Mets center fielder Jordany Valdespin celebrates as he leaps toward home… (Elsa / Getty Images )
And here the Dodgers were looking like they were going to bring in such a nice, little victory Wednesday.
Instead of this: Allowing the Mets to tie the score with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning and then watching reliever Josh Wall’s meltdown in the 10th, as he gave up a walk-off grand slam to unheralded Jordany Valdespin for a 7-3 loss at Citi Field in New York.
That great start by Ted Lilly was for naught. Ronald Belisario looking like the reliever of old, terrific defensive plays by Mark Ellis and Jerry Hairston Jr., getting to Mets phenom Matt Harvey, Matt Kemp collecting his first home run ... all for naught.
Wall came on to start the bottom of the 10th and looked overwhelmed. He immediately gave up a single to John Buck and walked Ike Davis. After a sacrifice advanced the runners, the Dodgers went with five infielders and had Wall intentionally walk Lucas Duda to load the bases.
That set the stage for Valdespin, who crushed a Wall fastball, sending it into the second deck above the right-field wall for the game-winning slam.
And things had started off so well. With Chad Billingsley undergoing Tommy John surgery Wednesday, and Zack Greinke and Chris Capuano on the disabled list, the Dodgers very much needed a big outing from Lilly, and had absolutely no right to expect it.
But Lilly delivered, and delivered like it was his great start from last season before it came to a crashing halt with shoulder surgery.
Lilly went five innings Wednesday, holding the Mets to one run on six hits and two walks. He struck out seven, none bigger than in his final inning.
Lilly got into trouble in the fifth when Harvey led off with a double and was singled home by Ruben Tejada to tie the score, 1-1. When Daniel Murphy followed with another hit – still with no outs -- Lilly was wobbling.
But Lilly came back to strike out David Wrighton on three pitches, got Buck on a fielder’s choice and then struck out Davis.
The Dodgers came back to regain the lead in the sixth inning. With two outs, Harvey walked Adrian Gonzalez to bring up Kemp. That’s Kemp, who had last hit a home run 93 plate appearances ago.
Only this time he jumped on a 95-mph fastball from Harvey and it went screaming down the right-field line. An usher sitting inside the foul pole just beyond the orange-painted top of the wall tried a bare-handed catch, but it bounced off his hands and back onto the field.
Umpires initially ruled it a fair ball as Gonzalez scored the go-ahead run but Kemp dashed to third base. Until the umpires reviewed the play and correctly ruled it a two-run homer.
The Mets got one run back in the bottom of the inning when left-hander J.P. Howell came in and immediately walked his first two batters. A groundout advanced the runners, and the call went to Belisario.
A sacrifice fly scored one run, but Belisario got Tejada to ground out. He then pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning.
Kenley Jansen started the eighth inning and gave up a one-out double to Marlon Byrd. Ellis made a diving stop up the middle off a hard-hit bouncer by Duda, throwing him out to save a run.
The Mets tied the score with two outs in the ninth inning after Carl Crawford got a bad jump and had a Mike Baxter sinking drive go off his glove. Baxter hustled into second base with a double. He was sacrificed to third and then Hairston made a terrific catch leaning over the rail near third-base wall on a Murphy pop-up.
But Wright followed with a hit off Brandon League to score Baxter with the tying run. More heartache was to come.