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Struggles lead to 'bittersweet' debut for Lee

Righty allows seven runs over 4 2/3 innings vs. Mets

NEW YORK -- Zach Lee was asked how he'll remember his Major League debut.

"Bittersweet is probably the best word to describe it," said Lee, who suffered the loss in the Mets' 15-2 rout of the Dodgers on Saturday night at Citi Field. "It's great to come up here, but unfortunately it was not a very good outing to hang your hat on."

The former LSU quarterback recruit was charged with seven runs on 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings, and while he wasn't the luckiest pitcher, he wasn't Cole Hamels, who threw a no-hitter Saturday, either.

He walked the first batter he faced, deflected a likely inning-ending double-play grounder into a rally-extending infield single and was down four runs in the first inning.

Video: [email protected]: Conforto knocks RBI single for first MLB hit

"Honestly, I don't know if Zach was really that bad," said manager Don Mattingly. "If he lets that ball go up the middle, it's a [double play] and he gets out of there with one [run allowed]. It's a tough one to let go. If it was me, I'd try to go home and get the double play that way. I didn't think it was as bad as it looked."

Lee, ranked by as the Dodgers' No. 12 prospect, conceded he was "a little nervous in the beginning," leading to pitches up in the strike zone. He said he tried to be too much of an athlete on the grounder he knocked down without knowing where his defense was playing. He said he can't wait for another chance to redeem himself.

"I hope to get back here as soon as I can, or if they give me another start, to show what I can actually do," he said.

Lee packed his bags, prepared to be optioned back to Triple-A on Sunday when Zack Greinke is activated off the paternity list. The Dodgers didn't wait on shuffling relievers, optioning Chin-hui Tsao and Josh Ravin after they allowed six and two runs, respectively. The club didn't announce replacements.

"The only thing on a night like this, we ended up using pitchers we don't want to use," Mattingly said, without mentioning by name J.P. Howell, who pitched the eighth inning. "You want to stay away from guys you may need tomorrow."

That's because on back-to-back nights the Dodgers gave pitchers their first MLB starts. Neither got past the fifth inning, but it was the undrafted Ian Thomas who won. Lee, a first-rounder signed for $5.25 million in 2010, didn't.

The two emergency appearances were necessitated by the birth of Greinke's first child. Greinke was originally set to pitch Friday night but flew back to Los Angeles, then ran into airline equipment problems and couldn't make it back in time to pitch this game with adequate rest.

Greinke will start Sunday, putting on the line a 43 2/3 scoreless-innings streak against a maligned offense that walloped four home runs, two by Lucas Duda, on Saturday. The Dodgers countered with solo shots off Matt Harvey from Jimmy Rollins (third consecutive game) and Joc Pederson (first homer since June 29). Pederson also had a double and threw a runner out at the plate.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for
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