It was supposed to be one of the Dodgers’ great strengths this season. They had an impressive-looking group in the bullpen.
A rising star in closer Kenley Jansen. Three former closers -- Brian Wilson, Chris Perez and Brandon League -- behind him. Left-handed specialists in J.P. Howell and Paco Rodriguez, veteran long man in Jamey Wright and young hard-throwers in Chris Withrow and Jose Dominguez.
They sure looked good, certainly should be good. Yet the bullpen has been one of the team’s great early flaws. They started the week 4-11 with a 4.38 ERA (25th in the majors) and had walked more batters than every team but the White Sox.
On a Tuesday night in New York, when the Dodgers may have lost Juan Uribe to another hamstring injury, they got a glimpse of what the bullpen is supposed to look like in their 9-4 victory over the Mets at Citi Field.
Four different relievers held the Mets scoreless over the final four innings, protecting a two-run lead until the Dodgers added three insurance runs in the ninth.
Josh Beckett started for the Dodgers and gave them five strong innings, and one really bad one. Sparked by a two-run homer from Adrian Gonzalez in a Dodgers’ four-run fifth, they were leading 6-1 going into the bottom of the sixth when Beckett lost it in a hurry.
Curtis Granderson hit a solo home run and Lucas Duda had a two-run shot to pull the Mets within two. After a walk, Beckett (2-1) was replaced by Howell, who promptly struck out two and got Eric Young Jr. to pop up.
Howell returned to start the seventh but, after he gave up a pair of one-out singles, was replaced by Withrow, who immediately hit Chris Young with a pitch to load the bases. But Withrow dug in, retiring Duda on a pop-up and Wilmer Flores on a grounder.
Wilson, back in familiar territory, pitched a scoreless eighth. And, although the Dodgers took away the save situation with their three runs in the top of the ninth, Jansen pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning, with a pair of strikeouts.
The game may not have been the sharply played affair the Dodgers keep searching for, but it still felt a long ways from their recent pair of sluggish efforts in Arizona.
Beckett actually singled in their first run in the second, but after the Mets tied it in the bottom of the inning on a Flores infield single, they appeared to break the game open with their four-run fifth.
After the two-run Gonzalez home run, Matt Kemp doubled and scored on a Carl Crawford single. Crawford stole second and scored on a Uribe base hit.
The Dodgers were still up 6-4 in the ninth when Crawford singled and Uribe doubled him to third. It may prove a costly double. Uribe, who missed five games earlier this month with what the Dodgers termed a mild hamstring strain, came up limping at the end of the double and was quickly replaced at second by Justin Turner. He left holding his right hamstring.
Crawford ended up scoring, sliding under the tag at home when Andre Ethier bounced to first baseman Daniel Murphy. Dee Gordon's single scored Turner, and a base hit by Yasiel Puig -- his third of the night -- scored Ethier with the final run.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times