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Random Game Callback, August 17, 2002
2006-08-17 03:59
by Bob Timmermann

Odalis Perez retired the first 19 New York Mets hitters before giving up a walk and then a home run as the Los Angeles Dodgers won at Shea Stadium 10-4 before a crowd of 50,763.

Perez had been acquired from the Atlanta Braves in an offseason trade along with Brian Jordan in exchange for Gary Sheffield. Manager Jim Tracy found Perez to be one of his most reliable starters in 2002. Mets manager Bobby Valentine had former Dodger Pedro Astacio starting.

Tracy had a patchwork lineup of sorts due to injuries and slumps. Third baseman Adrian Beltre was out with an injury, so Dave Hansen got a start at third. Regular first baseman Eric Karros was 1 for 14 in his career against Astacio, so Mike Kinkade got a start.

The Mets had lost six straight games and the Shea Stadium crowd got angry quickly when the Dodgers exploded for five runs in the third. Right fielder Shawn Green had an RBI single, Hansen had an RBI double, Kinkade scored two of his own on a double, and even Perez got into the act with an RBI single.

In the fourth, Green smashed a 3-run homer, his 36th of the season and after catcher Paul Lo Duca singled, Valentine pulled Astacio to a cacophony of boos and chants of "Go on strike!" (Fortunately, a strike was averted at the last minute on August 30.) Jeff D'Amico came in to relieve. D'Amico was acquired from Milwaukee prior to the season as part of a 3-team, 11-player trade by the Mets, Rockies, and Brewers. None of the players involved are with any of the three teams involved today.

The Dodgers piled on two more runs in the seventh against reliever Jamie Cerda. Kinkade led off getting hit by a pitch (Kinkade got hit by a pitch 22 times in 125 games with the Dodgers over two seasons.). Shortstop Alex Cora singled Kinkade to second. After Perez popped out, center fielder Dave Roberts tripled to right to score Kinkade and Cora and the Dodgers had a 10-0 lead.

In the bottom of the seventh, Perez retired his 19th straight batter when he got left fielder Roger Cedeno to ground out to first. Up next was shortstop Rey Ordonez, one of the league's weakest hitters both for average and slugging. Perez ran the count to 3-2. On the next pitch, Ordonez appeared to swing, but home plate umpire Brian O'Nora and first base umpire Gary Cederstrom ruled "no swing" and Ordonez broke the spell with a walk.

Obviously upset over losing the perfect game, Perez tried to throw the next pitch past Mets catcher Mike Piazza, but the left pitch out over the plate and Piazza sent the ball an estimated 455 feet to left for a 2-run homer. No-hitter and shutout gone.

Kevin Beirne and Paul Shuey each pitched an inning and gave up a run in the eighth and ninth innings in relief of Perez. The 10-4 win by the Dodgers stretched their lead in the wild card race to three games over the Giants. The Mets would stretch their losing streak to eleven games.

Perez had flirted with a no-hitter twice before in the 2002 season. On April 26 in Chicago, Perez gave up just an infield hit to Corey Patterson and faced just 27 batters. And on June 25, Perez took a no-hitter into the sixth, before Bobby Estalella of Colorado got a single.

The Dodgers would finish the 2002 season at 92-70, but lost out on a playoff spot when the Giants got hot in September and edged out their archrivals by 3 1/2 games. The Mets would finish in last in the NL East at 75-86 and Valentine would be fired at the end of the season.

Reliever Eric Gagne would be one of the big stories for the Dodgers in 2002. In his first season as a reliever, Gagne set a team record with 52 saves and struck out 114 batters in just 82 1/3 innings. Green, who had set a franchise record with 49 homers in 2001, followed up that season with a 42 homer season.

The Mets season was derailed by subpar performances by high-salaried players like first baseman Mo Vaughn (who play in just 27 games in 2003 before his career ended because of injuries and weight problems) and second baseman Roberto Alomar. Right fielder Jeromy Burnitz got into 154 games despite batting .215 with a .311 OBP.

Players on the rosters of the 2002 Dodgers and Mets who have played for both franchises include: Piazza, Burnitz, Cedeno, Lo Duca, Astacio, Kinkade, Hideo Nomo, Kazuhisa Ishii, Jesse Orosco, Dennis Springer, Jason Phillips, McKay Christensen, and Mark Guthrie.

Sources: Los Angeles Times, Retrosheet,

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