NEW YORK (AP) - Jeremy Hefner took the mound, determined to cut down that one big stat posted on the scoreboard: 7.07 ERA.
Hefner pitched his best game of the season for the New York Mets and was gone by the time Andre Ethier hit a tiebreaking single in the ninth inning that sent the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 3-2 win Thursday.
``It's well noted that I was struggling, and to go out and throw seven innings when the bullpen needed it and give us a chance to win the series, that was all good things,' Hefner said.
Hefner gave up one run and three hits in seven innings, the same numbers as Dodgers lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu. They left with the score 1-all and Los Angeles won a game decided by the bullpens.
``It's tough, but it's part of the game. The Dodgers threw well, too,' Hefner said.
Mets manager Terry Collins saw improvement from his starter, who struck out four, walked three and exited with a 5.14 ERA.
``Oh, yeah, absolutely. Seven solid innings I thought was plenty. He threw the ball very good,' he said. ``If we get some consistent outings like Dillon (Gee) and Hef have given us this year, then we're going to be in much better shape.'
Nick Punto opened the Dodgers' ninth with a double off Scott Rice (1-1) and moved to third on a grounder to the right side by Adrian Gonzalez. After an intentional walk to Matt Kemp, Collins visited the left-handed Rice on the mound.
The left-handed Ethier put the Dodgers ahead with his hit, and Juan Uribe drove in another run with an infield single for a 3-1 lead.
Ike Davis led off the Mets' ninth with a home run against Brandon League. But League, who gave up a ninth-inning lead Wednesday in a game the Dodgers lost in the 10th, closed for his sixth save.
Kenley Jansen (1-0) escaped a two-on, no-out jam in the eighth.
Ryu turned in his best and longest outing yet, holding the Mets to three hits. The rookie from South Korea struck out eight and walked three.
Ryu didn't get a lot of backing from the Los Angeles bats while he was in the game - he got plenty of support from the fans, however. A large Korean neighborhood is just one subway stop away from Citi Field, and Ryu had a lot of vocal rooters, starting from his very first pitch.
The 26-year-old lefty blanked the Mets on one single until the sixth. A leadoff walk to Ruben Tejada, a single by Daniel Murphy and a wild pitch on a breaking ball Ryu bounced set up David Wright's tying sacrifice fly.
Ryu gave up a two-out double to Marlon Byrd before striking out Davis to keep the score 1-all.
``He kind of throws everything at you,' Hefner said.
The Mets put runners at first and second with no outs in the eighth against Jansen before he struck out Wright, retired Lucas Duda on a fly and fanned Byrd.
The Dodgers scored in the first when leadoff man Carl Crawford was hit by a pitch and Kemp hit an RBI single.
NOTES: Collins said LHP Jonathan Niese would have a bullpen session during the day and start as scheduled Sunday vs. the Phillies. Niese was hit near the right ankle by a comebacker Tuesday. ... Gee is set to start Friday night at home against RHP Kyle Kendrick and the Phillies. ... Byrd has struck out in a career-worst nine straight games. ... Davis has hit four homers this year, all at home.
The Associated Press News Service
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