Pedro Martinez was five outs from the first no-hitter in New York Mets history. Four pitches later, he was losing.
Martinez didn't allow a hit yesterday until Antonio Perez tripled with one out in the eighth inning. Jayson Werth followed with a two-run homer to give the Dodgers a 2-1 victory.
"It's always hard. I felt like I was in command of the game -- and all of a sudden, in two pitches, I lost it," Martinez said. "It was a little bit frustrating. I did whatever possible to give my team an opportunity to win, and I blew it at the end. No excuses. They battled and never gave up."
Martinez (12-5) struck out five, walked one and retired 20 consecutive batters before Perez drove his 86th pitch off the left-center fence on a 1-1 count.
"Perez hit that ball, but it wasn't like he actually knew what was coming," Martinez said. "He just reacted to it, threw the head of the bat on it and it hit the wall. I made the pitch I wanted to, and he happened to hit it. He's a strong kid."
Of Werth's homer, Martinez said: "It was a fastball up and in. We were playing the infield in, so I was trying to keep him in the infield. But he cheated a little bit and got to it."
Martinez, 33, has three one-hitters, the most recent on Aug. 29, 2000, when he beat Tampa Bay, 8-0, with Boston.
"If a no-hitter comes, I'll take it," said Martinez. "I don't go out there expecting no-hitters, but I was lucky enough to be flirting with a no-hitter today."
* THE KID CAN PLAY: Even though he already had been thrown out at the plate yesterday by Braves RF Jeff Francoeur, Luis Gonzalez decided to test the rookie's arm a second time.
Gonzalez doubled in the fifth inning and tried to score on Shawn Green's single to right. Even Braves 3B Chipper Jones, watching the play develop, thought Gonzalez would be safe.
Instead, Francoeur again threw out Gonzalez with a powerful throw from right field. The rookie added four RBI, including a three-run homer, in the Braves' 13-8 win.
Braves P Mike Hampton, backing up C Brian McCann on the throw to the plate, said a shocked Gonzalez muttered, "You've got to be kidding me."
Francoeur has nine homers and 26 RBI and is hitting .382.
-- From News Services