Hefner pitches well, Mets beaten late by Dodgers

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NEW YORK – 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.


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.


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.


Jeter has ‘no doubt’ he’ll return to Yankees


Derek Jeter has no doubt he will return to the New York Yankees this season at the same level that made him one of baseball’s most revered players.


The shortstop was in pinstripes Thursday when he spoke at Yankee Stadium for the first time about a new fracture that was discovered last week in the ankle he broke during Game 1 of the AL championship series Oct. 13.


The Yankees have said the new injury should push Jeter’s return to mid-July. Jeter says he has a date in mind but would not share it because he did not want to disappoint himself or anyone else after failing to be ready for opening day, his original plan.


Kansas City 8, Detroit 3


Alex Gordon’s grand slam highlighted a five-run 10th inning for the Kansas City Royals, who rallied against the Detroit bullpen for an 8-3 win Thursday after Tigers ace Justin Verlander left with a thumb injury.


George Kottaras put the Royals ahead 4-3 with a bases-loaded walk off Phil Coke (0-3). Darin Downs came on for Detroit after that, but Gordon broke the game open one out later with his homer over the center-field wall.


Verlander is day-to-day with what the team said was cracked skin on his throwing thumb. The right-hander allowed two runs – one earned – in seven innings and left with a 3-2 lead. Bruce Rondon gave up the tying run in the eighth in his major league debut.


Tim Collins (1-0) got the win.


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