NEW YORK -- Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts opened his press conference Saturday night with six words New York Mets fans -- if not the Mets themselves -- would find as infuriating as inarguable.
"Chase was and has been tremendous," Roberts said after second baseman Chase Utley hit two homers -- including a grand slam -- after Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard was ejected for throwing behind him in the third inning of the Dodgers' 9-1 win at Citi Field.
Utley's latest assault against the Mets quieted a sellout crowd of 42,227 that offered up plenty of standing ovations during a pre-game ceremony celebrating the 30th anniversary of the franchise's most recent World Series-winning team.
With one out and nobody on in the top of the third, Syndergaard evoked memories of the feisty 1986 Mets by firing a 99 mph fastball behind the left-handed hitting Utley. It appeared to be an attempt by Syndergaard to exact revenge for the National League Division Series last October, when former Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada suffered a broken leg after a hard slide into second base by Utley in the seventh inning of Game 2.
Asked if it was a purpose pitch by Syndergaard, Utley paused.
"That's a good question," said Utley, who has been hit by a pitch 183 times, most among active players. "Possibly. But I understand it."
Home plate umpire Adam Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard.
"The ruling was that he intentionally threw at the batter, and with that, we have a judgment of whether we thought it was intentional, and if it was, we can either warn or eject," Hamari told a pool reporter. "And with what happened in that situation, we felt the ejection was warranted."
Syndergaard exited the field without an argument.
"I was a little shocked, but knowing that this was the Dodgers, I can see why the umpire thought (he was throwing at him)," Syndergaard said. "It was just a pitch that got away from me. That's all I got."
Mets manager Terry Collins, on the other hand, had plenty of words for Hamari, who ejected Collins following a lengthy argument. Collins went back to yell some more at Hamari after getting the thumb and had to be restrained from going after him a third time.
"There was a time when in this game you had a shot and nothing happened, the ball went to the backstop," Collins said. "So that was kind of my argument."
Right-hander Logan Verrett entered and struck out Utley, but the Mets' long-time nemesis began exacting revenge of his own in the sixth, when he strode to the plate to deafening boos before snapping a scoreless tie by homering on Verrett's first pitch.
An inning later, Utley was greeted by boos again before extending the Dodgers' lead to 6-0 by blasting a 1-0 pitch from Hansel Robles beyond the right-center-field wall for his sixth career grand slam and his first since July 29, 2014, when he hit a grand slam for the Philadelphia Phillies against the Mets at Citi Field.
"Under these circumstances, for him to answer the bell and to perform and put us on his shoulders, not only speaks to him as a baseball player but his character," Roberts said. "For me, there's no one better."
Utley, who was a member of the Phillies teams that mounted September comebacks to overcome the Mets and win the National League East in 2007 and 2008, has 38 homers and 113 RBIs in 185 career games against New York.
"He's always done big damage to us -- always, since I've been here," said Collins, who is in his sixth season as Mets manager.
Ten of those homers against the Mets have given Utley's team the lead.
"I think a loud, energizing environment gets the best out of you -- I think it's fun," said the laconic Utley, who gazed upward at the Oklahoma City-Golden State NBA playoff game during his 3 1/2-minute interview. "It kind of gets the adrenaline going a little bit makes you kind of dig down deeper."
Right-hander Kenta Maeda picked up the win, throwing five shutout innings in which he allowed two hits and two walks while striking out three. He survived an injury scare in the first inning when Mets left fielder Michael Conforto lined a comebacker off Maeda's right hand.
Juan Lagares hit a pinch-homer in the eighth for the Mets.
Verrett allowed two runs, four hits and no walks while striking out three in 3 2/3 innings. Syndergaard allowed two hits and no walks while striking out three.
NOTES: The Mets acquired 1B James Loney from the San Diego Padres for cash considerations. He is expected to join the Mets on Monday and should play against right-handed pitchers while 1B Lucas Duda (lower back stress fracture) is sidelined. ... The pregame ceremony honoring the Mets' 1986 team ended with LHP Jesse Orosco, who got the final out of the World Series, throwing a first pitch to D.J. Carter, the son of late Mets C Gary Carter. Orosco then flung his glove in the air before Carter emulated his Dad by leaping into Orosco's arms. ... The Dodgers optioned LHP Julio Urias to Triple-A Oklahoma City and purchased the contract of RHP Casey Fien. The 19-year-old Urias allowed three runs in 2 2/3 innings in his major league debut Friday. ... To make room for Fien on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers designated for assignment OF James Ramsey.