LOS ANGELES (AP) – Pedro Martinez was five outs from the first no-hitter in New York Mets history. Four pitches later, he was losing.

Martinez took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning before giving up Antonio Perez’s triple and Jayson Werth’s two-run homer, and the Los Angeles Dodgers pulled out a 2-1 victory Sunday over the Mets.

Brad Penny (6-7) hung on at the finish for his first win in seven starts. The right-hander scattered 10 hits in his first complete game with the Dodgers and third in 155 career starts. He struck out nine and walked none.

Martinez (12-4) struck out five, walked one and retired 20 consecutive batters before Perez drove a 1-1 pitch over the head of 39-year-old Gerald Williams and off the left-center fence.

It would have taken a spectacular play for Williams to catch the long drive by Perez. Williams ran full speed toward the long drive, then pulled back at the last moment as he crashed shoulder-first into the wall and the ball bounced away.

Williams was in center field for this series only because the Mets’ two best defensive outfielders – Gold Glove winner Mike Cameron and All-Star Carlos Beltran – were injured in a head-to-head collision Thursday at San Diego.

Just three pitches later, Werth sent the crowd of 48,055 into a frenzy with a drive into the pavilion seats in left-center for his sixth home run.

New York threatened in the ninth when Marlon Anderson doubled with one out and stole third. He tried to score on Victor Diaz’s slow bouncer with the infield in, but was tagged out by Dioner Navarro after a perfect throw from second baseman Perez. Penny struck out pinch-hitter Kaz Matsui to end it.

Martinez merely sat on the bench by himself after the final out. As the Dodgers celebrated on the field, he got pats of encouragement from manager Willie Randolph and several teammates as they cleared the dugout.

After a few minutes, Martinez got up and made his way to the clubhouse. He has everything on his pitching resume – All-Star appearances, Cy Young Awards, a World Series championship – except for a no-hitter.

The closest the Dodgers came to a hit before Perez’s triple was in the fourth inning, when Olmedo Saenz lined a 1-2 pitch down the left-field line that landed foul by less than a foot.

The Mets have had 23 complete-game one-hitters in their 44-year history, the most famous being Tom Seaver’s “imperfect game,” during the 1969 championship season, when Jimmy Qualls broke up Seaver’s perfecto with a ninth-inning single. Seaver eventually got his no-hitter with Cincinnati in 1978 against St. Louis, one season after the Mets traded him to the Reds.

The only run against Penny came on consecutive doubles by Diaz and Williams with none out in the fifth.

Martinez pitched nine perfect innings for Montreal in San Diego on June 3, 1995. He allowed a leadoff double in the 10th and was replaced by Mel Rojas, who finished the one-hitter in a 1-0 win.

The 33-year-old Martinez has four one-hitters, the most recent one coming on Aug. 29, 2000, when he beat Tampa Bay 8-0 with Boston.

Martinez began his big league career with the Dodgers in 1992 as a reliever before he was traded to Montreal in November 1993 for second baseman Delino DeShields.

From there, the wispy right-hander with the powerful fastball went on to win three Cy Young Awards and five ERA titles. He entered this season with the lowest ERA (2.71) and opponents’ batting average (.209) among active pitchers. Martinez won his first World Series ring last year with the Red Sox.

The complete game was the third this season by the seven-time All-Star.

Last Tuesday at San Diego, Martinez allowed five runs and nine hits over five innings in an 8-3 loss. It was his only outing this season that was shorter than six innings.

Notes: Monday is the 40th anniversary of the Beatles’ history-making concert at Shea Stadium. The following night, the Mets will commemorate that event with a Beatles tribute band that will perform all the Fab Four’s hits from that concert. … Jay Horwitz, the Mets’ vice president of media relations, celebrated his 60th birthday. … A ballboy on the right-field line tried to backhand Cliff Floyd’s fourth-inning double inside first base and missed it, forcing umpire Brian Gorman to signal that the ball was still alive.

AP-ES-08-14-05 1842EDT


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