Oh no-no! Pedro, Mets downed in finale

Oh no-no! Martinez, Mets downed in finale

LOS ANGELES -- It would have been historic, even unprecedented, and there would have been a degree of the symmetrical involved as well. In the words of Jose Reyes, it would have been "a lot of fun." To Cliff Floyd, it would have been "so sweet." And to the Mets as a whole, to the now-disconsolate Mets, it would have been "just what we needed," according to Marlon Anderson.

Instead, the antidote never was administered. The first no-hitter in the history of the Mets remained unattained and the fact that this franchise -- with all the dominating pitchers it has employed -- never has pitched one became even more unfathomable.

A most incongruous double negative -- the Mets have no no-hitters -- lives, though it nearly was eliminated Sunday by Pedro Martinez in a 2-1 loss to the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. The cover boy for all things Mets this season needed five outs to complete the first no-hitter in the franchise's 6,951 games and thereby put an end to the Curse of Nolan Ryan. But in a four-pitch sequence in the eighth inning, Martinez (12-5) lost his no-hitter, his shutout and the slim lead the Mets had provided him. And in the end, he lost the game as well.

A triple by Antonio Perez followed by a home run by Jayson Werth denied Martinez all of it, completing an unsuccessful road trip and creating an uncomfortable cross-country charter. The lost no-hitter and the lost game were another double dose of disappointment, delivered almost simultaneously -- almost like the loss of two outfielders on one horrifying collision.

In a way, what didn't happen for Martinez and the Mets on Sunday and what happened to Carlos Beltran and Mike Cameron on Thursday became linked when the Mets' fourth loss in six Southern California games was completed. It's as if misfortune, like misery, prefers company.

The afternoon's developments prompted the Mets to assume the position. At one point, minutes after the game, nine players or coaches were seated at their lockers in the hushed clubhouse with their chins resting on open hands, lost in thought after so much had changed during a two-batter sequence.

"No-hitter or not," Mike Piazza said, "it's tough."

Floyd likened it to being swept in a doubleheader and couldn't keep himself from drawing a line from Sunday's defeat to Thursday's collision.

"We have to find a way to get it done without the guys we don't have," Floyd said.

Had Martinez pitched the no-hitter, the Mets would have focused on it and reveled in it, of course. But losing forced them to look at the bigger picture -- the race for the Wild Card and the dwindling time they have to assert themselves in it.

"Everything turned around so fast," Anderson said.

"I thought I was in control," Martinez said. "But in two pitches, I lost it. I blew it in the end."

What he missed was a chance to do what Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack, Dwight Gooden, Bret Saberhagen, David Cone and Ryan himself -- all nasties with no-hit stuff -- never did with the Mets, and what Martinez never has done in a manner officially recognized in the game.

Martinez pitched nine hitless innings against the Padres on June 3, 1995, but he allowed a leadoff double by Bip Roberts in the 10th frame. So he still hasn't done what big brother Ramon did on July 14, 1995 (with Piazza catching, incidentally). That stands as the last no-hitter at Dodger Stadium.

So the Ryan Curse, as it was identified by Cone in 1992, stands. Cone's sense of it was that the Mets traded the greatest no-hit pitcher ever and never will pitch one. Only the Mets, Padres (under the spell of a different curse), Devil Rays and Rockies have no no-hitters.

Martinez had been in near absolute control through 23 batters. Milton Bradley walked in the first inning and that was it. Martinez had five strikeouts, all before Perez's triple. He was pitching on the eighth anniversary of his last appearance at Dodger Stadium -- when he was a member of the Expos -- and needed to achieve five more outs to produce a fun piece of symmetry. He lost that 1997 start to the Dodgers, 1-0. And before the Dodgers rose up to beat him Sunday, he was leading, 1-0.

Then Perez -- a dangerous, slashing hitter, according to Piazza -- hit a 1-1, low and away cutter off the wall to the left side of straightaway center field for his first triple of the season. Gerald Williams, Beltran's understudy who was shading Perez to right-center, had a chance.

"It would have been a great catch," manager Willie Randolph said. Instead, it was no catch, as Williams never laid a glove in it.

A dependable outfielder, Williams didn't say he should have caught it.

"Maybe I had a shot," he said.

But Floyd acknowledged that "a regular center fielder would have had a slightly better chance." And with that, another line to Thursday and Beltran was drawn. The collision that cost the Mets two important components has become the prism through which they view each mishap.

It's not a healthy outlook, but given the events of the week -- three one-run losses, the collision and the unattained no-hitter -- it is understandable.

Then came the sixth home run of Werth's summer. The son of one-time Yankees reserve Dennis Werth crushed a misplaced fastball to an area no Mets outfielder could reach.

"I did realize this time I had a no-hitter," Martinez said. He hadn't been aware on June 7 when he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Astros. "I realized it in the fourth inning. But I also realized we had a one-run lead. I wasn't thinking no-hitter."

The Mets tried to come back against Brad Penny, the pitcher they usually have success against, in the ninth inning. But Penny (6-7) beat them for the third time, against nine losses, in 15 career starts by tossing the third complete game of his career.

Penny allowed 10 hits, eight more than Martinez, and no walks. The Mets struck out nine times -- three times by Piazza, who has hit Penny well in the past.

Anderson doubled after one out in the ninth, and he stole third, forcing the Dodgers to play their infield in. The Mets needed a fly ball from Victor Diaz, who had hit a fly-ball double and flied out twice in his first three at-bats. Diaz promptly hit a ground ball to second base.

Anderson wasn't going on contact, so time was lost as he read the play. And even though Perez double-clutched on the throw, Anderson was out at home.

"I thought I had a good read," he said. "Evidently not."

With two out, Randolph had Kaz Matsui pinch-hit for Williams, who had driven in Diaz with a long double in the fifth. Matsui stuck out on a 2-2 pitch.

Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.