LOS ANGELES (AP) – Shawn Green and the hitters started fast, Billy Wagner closed it out quickly and now the New York Mets are headed to the NL championship series.

A dominant offense and reliable bullpen led the way as the Mets completed their first postseason sweep since 1969, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-5 in Game 3 Saturday night.

After rolling in the first round, the Mets will open the NLCS at Shea Stadium on Wednesday against the San Diego-St. Louis winner. The Cardinals lead 2-1 in that best-of-five series.

Shawn Green had three hits and two RBIs against his former team in a game decided by the bullpens after starters Steve Trachsel and Greg Maddux made earlier exits.

For the Dodgers, it was a familiar ending. They were 1-12 in postseason games since 1988, when they beat the Mets in the NLCS and the Oakland Athletics in the World Series.

Jeff Kent had four hits, including a two-run homer, for Los Angeles. The Mets had the NL East championship virtually wrapped up by the All-Star break, and went on to win a league-high 97 games. But having to go without the injured Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez against the Dodgers seemed to make for a dicey proposition.

That turned out not to be the case because the Mets scored 19 runs in the three games, and their bullpen did its job. The relievers needed to come through – Mets starters pitched only 13 2-3 innings in the series. Hardly a repeat from 1969, when the Tom Seaver-led Mets swept the best-of-five NLCS from Atlanta.

While the Mets were breezing into this postseason, the streaky Dodgers won their last seven games of the regular season to earn the wild-card berth.

Perhaps they ran out of energy against New York. The Dodgers certainly ran themselves out of a chance in Game 1 when they had two runners tagged out at the plate on the same play.

Pedro Feliciano, the fourth of seven New York pitchers, earned the victory. He got just one out, but it was a big one, as he retired pinch-hitter Nomar Garciaparra on a grounder to the box with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth with the Mets trailing 5-4.

The Mets took a 7-5 lead in the sixth by scoring three runs off Jonathan Broxton on consecutive one-out RBI singles by Jose Reyes, Paul Lo Duca and Carlos Beltran – all softly-hit balls that fell in front of charging outfielders.

Lo Duca blooped another run-scoring single off Brett Tomko in the eighth, and the Mets got another run on third baseman Wilson Betemit’s throwing error.

The Mets scored three times off Maddux in the first on consecutive two-out singles by Beltran, Carlos Delgado, David Wright, Cliff Floyd and Green.

It could have been worse for the Dodgers, but Lo Duca, who drew a one-out walk, was thrown out trying to take third on Beltran’s hit, and first baseman James Loney made a leaping catch of Jose Valentin’s liner to end the inning.

The Mets got another run in the third on a two-out single by Floyd and an RBI double by Green – a ball that hit the top of the left-field fence over the leaping Marlon Anderson.

Loney, a rookie replacing the injured Garciaparra at first base, hit a two-run single in the fourth to chase Trachsel.

Darren Oliver, who relieved with one out and the tying runs in scoring position, speared pinch-hitter Andre Ethier’s liner and threw to third to complete an inning-ending double play.

The Dodgers took a 5-4 lead by scoring three runs in the fifth after Oliver retired the first two batters. Anderson singled and Kent followed with a two-run homer.

J.D. Drew singled to chase Oliver, Russell Martin singled off Chad Bradford, and Betemit walked to load the bases. Feliciano relieved and walked Loney to force home the tiebreaking run before retiring Garciaparra, who was limited to pinch-hitting duties after tearing his left quadriceps in Game 2.

Kent’s ground-rule double in the sixth put runners at second and third with two outs, but Guillermo Mota retired Drew on a fly to center. Mota, another former Dodger, worked two scoreless inning before Aaron Heilman and Wagner finished with one inning each.

Neither starter lasted long. Trachsel, making his postseason debut at age 35, allowed six hits and two runs in 3 1-3 innings.

The 40-year-old Maddux, a winner of 333 career games and making his 30th postseason start, gave up seven hits and four runs in four innings.

Notes: Floyd was replaced in left field by Endy Chavez in the bottom of the third because of what the Mets called a strained left Achilles. … Garciaparra was presented with the NL comeback player of the year before the game. … Wright has hit safely in 15 straight games – the final 12 of the regular season and all three in the division series. … Hall of Famer Duke Snider, who played 16 seasons for the Dodgers, one for the Mets and one for the Giants before retiring in 1964, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. … While Trachsel was making his postseason debut, he started and was the winner in the Chicago Cubs’ wild-card playoff game against San Francisco in 1998. … Rafael Furcal and Kenny Lofton, who bat 1-2 in the Dodgers’ lineup, went a combined 3-of-24 in the series. They hit .300 and stole 59 bases between them during the regular season.

AP-ES-10-08-06 0010EDT


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