The Dodger formula is so simple: Provide the major league’s top pitching staff with at least four runs and relax.
Executing the plan hasn’t been as easy, explaining the Dodgers’ relief Thursday night after a 6-1 victory over the New York Mets at Shea Stadium.
“We keep talking about just trying to survive with the pitching we have until we start hitting, and that’s really what we’ve been doing,” said right fielder Shawn Green, who had two of the team’s 12 hits.
“We’re not going to be the type of team that scores 10 runs a night, but we don’t have to be with our pitching, we just have to be in that four-to-six range. So when we’re right where we should be and everything goes right, it’s a good feeling.”
Their good vibes occurred at the expense of the Mets and a crowd of 18,729, who watched the Dodgers score five runs in the seventh and eighth to take command. The Dodgers have won two of three games in the series.
Mike Kinkade delivered another timely pinch-hit in the seventh, driving in the Dodgers’ second run of the inning to extend the lead to 3-1. Cesar Izturis’ fielder’s choice forced in the go-ahead run in the inning, and his two-out, two-run, bases-loaded single capped a three-run eighth.
Brian Jordan forced momentum to shift in the Dodgers’ favor in the sixth after the Mets had tied the score, 1-1, and had runners on the corners, by ending the inning with a sensational catch as he slammed into the padded left-field wall. The players in the Dodger dugout erupted in approval, and starter Kazuhisa Ishii was particularly appreciative.
Ishii (3-1) altered his delivery after walking six in his previous start, and the adjustments seemed to help in a solid six-inning outing. He outdueled Tom Glavine (4-3) in a matchup of crafty left-handers, and the Dodgers improved to 18-15 against the two-time Cy Young Award winner.
The Dodgers (18-17) moved a game above .500 with their ninth victory in 13 games.
The Mets (14-20) appear to be in disarray, but the Dodgers find progress wherever they can at this point.
“I know this: Our offense is better than the 118 runs we scored [before Thursday],” Manager Jim Tracy said. “We’re weathering this storm.”
Had it not been for Jordan, it might have been another rainy day for the Dodgers.
He twisted to locate the ball as he raced back, making a leaping catch on Jason Phillips’ shot as he crashed into the padding with his right shoulder.
“It’s one of those where if you make that catch, all of a sudden their heads drop down,” Jordan said. “All of a sudden, that moment is gone, and we’ve got the momentum from there. It worked out to our advantage.”
So does having Kinkade on the bench.
Hitting for Ishii in the seventh, Kinkade singled to center to drive in Ron Coomer, who played third with Adrian Beltre hitless in 17 at-bats and out of the starting lineup again. Kinkade is five for 13 with two runs batted in as a pinch-hitter.
“I kept getting put in the bench-type role in every organization I’ve been in, so I just figured that at some point, I better learn how to do it,” Kinkade said. “I’m just like everyone else on the team. I want to go out and play every day, but right now my role is being a bench player.”