Best of the Worst: It's Dodgers, 8-4 : Baseball: They get early lead against Mets and Tanana in game between cellar-dwellers.


Five seasons ago, the Dodgers against the New York Mets was worth the ticket, a pennant matchup.

On Tuesday, the same teams looked up from last place in their divisions, desperate to make up ground on the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins.

Somebody had to win, right?

Well, eventually it was the Dodgers, 8-4.

The teams played their best cat-and-mouse game with the scoreboard as the Dodgers took a three-run lead in the first inning and tried to make it hold up.

It would take some work.

Catcher Mike Piazza finally broke up a close game in the sixth inning with a double to left field to score two runs and make the lead 7-4, more comfortable for the crowd of 34,202 at Dodger Stadium.

"Lately I've just been trying to ride the wave as long as I can," said Piazza, who had three runs batted in to increase his team-leading figure to 17. "Streaks like this, you don't want them to end, because when they end, you wonder if they'll come back."

Piazza was coming off a week in which he hit .438.

But nothing was easy for the Dodgers on Tuesday.

It took them five innings to chase Met starter Frank Tanana, who allowed five runs and eight hits and suffered his first loss against two victories.

The Mets blew a great opportunity to chase Dodger starter Pedro Astacio (2-2) in the fifth inning, as he clung to a 4-2 lead, but some clutch pitching and a nice play by third baseman Tim Wallach ended the threat.

The Mets had runners on second and third with one out with the meat of the order coming up. But Astacio struck out Bobby Bonilla. Then, after an intentional walk to Johnson, Joe Orsulak hit a sharp grounder to Wallach's left. Wallach bobbled the ball, but threw to second base in time for the force.

"We hadn't gotten the baserunners before," said Manager Jeff Torborg, whose Mets have won one of their last nine games. "We got the baserunners tonight and we didn't take advantage of them."

Mets were two for 13 with runners in scoring position.

The Dodgers added to their lead in the sixth inning, going up, 5-2, on a run-scoring double by Eric Karros.

Then, another Met chance was aborted. They scored two runs in the sixth inning to pull within 5-4, but missed a great chance to take the lead.

After Jeff Kent and Todd Hundley singled, Astacio gave way to another Pedro, Martinez, who quickly struck out pinch-hitter, Chico Walker.

But Vince Coleman singled to center field to score Kent, making it 5-3. Then, Tony Fernandez reached first on Karros' error, loading the bases for Eddie Murray.

Murray has a lifetime average of .429 with the bases loaded, with 249 runs batted in. But Martinez held him to a run-scoring sacrifice fly, then struck out Bonilla to end the inning.

In the Dodger sixth, Piazza gave his team some breathing room with a double that scored Jody Reed and Eric Davis.

It was a rough night for Met starter Tanana, one of baseball's senior citizens.

Tanana, 39, entered Tuesday's game having made 609 major league appearances in his 20-year career. It was his first at Dodger Stadium.

He entered his start against the Dodgers with a 2-0 record and an earned-run average of 1.71.

The home team greeted him like a stranger, scoring three runs in the first inning.

Brett Butler opened the game with a single and was sacrificed to second by Reed. After Davis walked and Wallach flied out, Piazza singled to center, Butler scoring.

Davis then scored on Karros' single to left and Cory Snyder followed up with a ground-rule double to right to score Piazza for a 3-0 lead.

The Mets scored in the third when, with one out, Coleman singled and stole his ninth base of the season, later scoring on Fernandez's single to center.

The Dodgers made it 4-1 in the third when Wallach greeted Tanana with his third home run of the season. It was Wallach's first home run at Dodger Stadium as a Dodger.

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