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Chess Match: Chavez move works

Chess Match: Chavez move pays dividends

NEW YORK -- This best-of-five National League Division Series has swung mightily in the favor of the Mets, who used solid starting pitching, excellent relief pitching and timely hitting for a Game 2 victory over the Dodgers and a commanding 2-0 lead.

The speed factor
The situation: After scoring six runs and winning Game 1, you might have expected Mets manager Willie Randolph to use the same lineup for Game 2.

The decision: Randolph decided to start speedster Endy Chavez in right field in place of steady veteran Shawn Green, who was 0-for-4 in Game 1 but made a key defensive play.

The outcome: Chavez, batting eighth, led off the third inning with a first-pitch bunt single, advanced to second on a wild pitch, went to third on a groundout, and scored the game's first run on another infield out.

Sticking with the starter
The situation: The Dodgers had the tying run on second base with one out in the fifth inning and pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo coming to bat.

The decision: Instead of using a pinch-hitter, manager Grady Little let Kuo hit for himself.

The outcome: Kuo advanced the runner to third base with a grounder to second base, but the Dodgers didn't score. Kuo returned to the mound for the bottom of the fifth inning, retired only one of four batters he faced and departed with the bases loaded. The Mets scored a run to take a 2-0 lead.

Fundamentally sound
The situation: With runners on first and second bases and none out in the sixth inning, veteran second baseman Jose Valentin came to bat with the Mets leading 2-0.

The decision: Randolph played by the book and instructed Valentin to sacrifice the runners into scoring position with a bunt.

The outcome: Valentin did his job so well that his bunt rolled to the right side of the mound, forcing Dodgers pitcher Brett Tomko to make the play. Tomko had to make such a quick throw that it was wide of first base and allowed Valentin to reach base and load the bases with none out. The Mets scored two runs to double their lead and basically put the game away.

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

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