An anemic offense has the Los Angeles Dodgers in a freefall.
They usually don't have to muster much with the bats when ace Clayton Kershaw takes the mound.
Kershaw looks to continue his dominance of the New York Mets and help the Dodgers end their longest losing streak in almost four years Sunday.
Los Angeles (43-36) has dropped 11 of 12 while hitting .172 with 15 runs, scoring five during a seven-game losing streak. The team hasn't dropped eight in a row since Aug. 22-29, 2008.
The Dodgers have been shut out in five of the last six games, including each of the last two.
That swoon has dropped them into second in the NL West, one game back of San Francisco after leading by 7 1/2 on May 27.
"I don't have a lot of answers," manager Don Mattingly said. "Some really tough days right now."
Already without star center fielder Matt Kemp (hamstring), the Dodgers are also missing Andre Ethier (oblique), the team leader with 55 RBIs. Without those two in the lineup, Los Angeles has dropped the first three of this four-game set to New York (43-36) after managing three hits in Saturday's 5-0 loss.
"When you're not scoring runs, it's frustrating," rookie Scott Van Slyke said. "I mean, when you look at the Mets (Saturday), they got a double, got him over and got him in in like three pitches. So when you're scoring runs, it looks easier than it actually is.
"I think it's just going to take one game where everyone's swinging the bat well to just kind of relax everybody and get things going."
It may not take much offensively with Kershaw (5-4, 2.74 ERA) facing the Mets. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is 4-0 with a 1.39 ERA in five starts against them, tossing 16 shutout innings in two home games versus New York.
The last time Kershaw saw the Mets at home on July 7 came under similar circumstances. He yielded five hits with nine strikeouts in eight innings of a 6-0 victory, as the Dodgers avoided being swept in a four-game series. That performance also came opposite Dillon Gee , the Mets' scheduled starter for Sunday.
Kershaw has only an 0-1 record to show for his last two starts despite limiting opponents to three runs and 11 hits with 15 strikeouts in 14 innings.
He'll be facing a Mets team that has won four straight after losing four in a row. They're hitting .310 with seven home runs during the win streak, but the club's work on the mound has been far more impressive lately.
New York has a 0.75 ERA in those four games, a run Gee (5-6, 4.42) hopes to continue.
The right-hander, however, is 1-3 with a 4.26 ERA in his last four starts. He wasn't sharp in a 5-3 loss at Wrigley Field on Tuesday, yielding four runs and nine hits in five innings.
Murphy is 8 for 17 with three homers and 10 RBIs in four games, matching his RBI total from his previous 25.
Davis is 6 for 17 in that stretch, connecting for two homers and driving in eight. He had a three-run homer and a double Saturday.
"If we're going to succeed, that's how we're going to do it - by somebody else coming through when we need them," manager Terry Collins said.
|Tony Gwynn Jr.||3||.667||2||0||0||0||0||.667||1.334||.667|
|New York Mets|
|June 23, 2012||Frank Francisco||15-Day DL||Left oblique strain|
|June 16, 2012||Jason Bay||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|June 02, 2012||Mike Baxter||15-Day DL||Displaced right collarbone|
|May 31, 2012||Ramon Ramirez||15-Day DL||Right hamstring strain|
|May 31, 2012||Ramon Ramirez||15-Day DL||Right hamstring strain|
|May 29, 2012||Justin Turner||15-Day DL||Sprained right ankle|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|June 27, 2012||Andre Ethier||Day-to-Day||Left game -left oblique strain|
|June 03, 2012||Javy Guerra||15-Day DL||Right knee inflammation|
|May 31, 2012||Matt Kemp||15-Day DL||Re-aggravated strained left hamstring|
|May 30, 2012||Matt Kemp||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left hamstring|
|May 24, 2012||Ted Lilly||15-Day DL||Left shoulder inflammation|
|May 23, 2012||Justin Sellers||60-Day DL||Bulging disc in lower back|
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- At the rate the Los Angeles Dodgers were scoring runs during the past week, Clayton Kershaw didn't mind taking them any way he could get them Sunday night.
James Loney had two RBIs, and the offensively challenged Dodgers parlayed three errors by the New York Mets into six unearned runs to help Kershaw win 8-3 and snap the team's season-worst seven-game skid.
"It was a great game for us, to bust out of our losing streak like that," Kershaw said. "We needed to score some runs, and we took advantage of their mistakes. We went through a rough patch, and hopefully tonight kind of broke us out of it."
Kershaw (6-4) allowed three runs - one earned - and five hits over seven innings with nine strikeouts and three walks. Last year's NL Cy Young winner, named to the All-Star team for the second straight season just hours before taking the mound, overcame a pair of costly throwing errors by shortstop Dee Gordon on back-to-back plays in the third and improved his career record against the Mets to 5-0 with a 1.37 ERA in six starts.
"Dee knows everybody in this team has his back, and he bounced back awesome - the way he came back with a couple of hits and a couple of stolen bases to get us going offensively," Kershaw said. "That's what you do after you make some mistakes. You just put your head down and keep playing. Dee showed a lot of character tonight."
So did Kershaw. The 24-year-old left-hander has pitched at least five innings and allowed no more than two earned runs in 87 of his 133 career starts, and is 48-11 with 28 no-decisions in those games. Last season, he was 21-0 in 24 starts under those circumstances - but only 5-3 with two no-decisions this year.
"Wins and losses as a starting pitcher is something you can't control. But at the same time, you can control keeping your team in the game and putting up zeros," Kershaw said. "As far as evening out the win-loss record, I don't know how that works. But it always evens out if you keep them in the game - especially on a good team like this."
The victory helped the Dodgers avoid what would have been the Mets' first four-game sweep against them. New York didn't get a baserunner after Ruben Tejada 's leadoff single in the fifth.
Dillon Gee (5-7) was charged with four runs - two earned - and five hits over six innings and struck out four. In his only other start at Dodger Stadium, the right-hander also was matched up against Kershaw and lost 6-0 on July 7, 2011.
"I thought Dillon had good stuff," catcher Mike Nickeas said. "Unfortunately, he's kind of been the guy on our staff that has been a little unlucky. We haven't played tremendous defense behind him and we haven't scored a ton of runs when he's been out there. But I think he's thrown much better than what his won-lost record shows. And if he keeps doing that, it'll all even out for him in the end."
Mets manager Terry Collins rested first baseman Ike Davis and second baseman Daniel Murphy in order to stack his lineup with all right-handed bats against Kershaw. But the plan backfired in the fifth, when the Dodgers capitalized on two errors by the right side of the infield into a pair of unearned runs that tied the score at 3 - without the benefit of a hit.
Ronny Cedeno , starting at second base for only the sixth time this season, dropped a simple throw from third baseman David Wright on a potential double-play grounder by Tony Gwynn Jr. after a leadoff walk to Juan Uribe .
Kershaw advanced both runners with a sacrifice bunt, and Uribe scored when Gordon's grounder was misplayed by Justin Turner in his third start at first base. A.J. Ellis followed with a sacrifice fly.
When asked if he was sacrificing defense with this lineup, Collins said: "I wouldn't say that with our club. Our right-handed lineup, they're pretty good defensively and they can catch the ball. Justin Turner 's a guy who usually catches everything that's hit at him. In Ronny's case, there's not a guy with better hands in the National League than Ronny Cedeno . He was probably just trying to hurry the transfer to get a double play."
Juan Rivera drew a leadoff walk in the sixth, advanced on Adam Kennedy 's ground-rule double and came home with the go-ahead run on Loney's grounder to second base - just his second RBI in a span of 39 at-bats.
The Dodgers blew it open with four runs in the seventh, after loading the bases with no outs. Rivera hit a comebacker to Miguel Batista , who tried to start a 1-2-3 double play, but Nickeas mishandled the throw for the Mets' NL-worst 63rd error as two runs scored. Kennedy followed with a sacrifice fly, and Loney made it 8-3 with an RBI double.
"As a catcher," Nickeas said, "we're taught to kind of hang back on those and anticipate a difficult throw - not that I think the throw was the problem. I just wasn't in the best position to handle it. I think I just came out a little early. The ball caught me a little and it went off my glove. When you give teams the ability to get some momentum, it's tough to gather it back."
After getting shut out in five of their previous six games and getting outscored 30-2 during that stretch, the Dodgers ended a string of 23 consecutive scoreless innings with a two-out RBI double in the first by Rivera that tied the score after the Mets got an RBI single from Scott Hairston .
NOTES: Wright finished second in the All-Star fan balloting at 3B - a whopping 1,610,162 votes behind San Francisco's Pablo Sandoval . But he will make his sixth appearance in seven years as a result of player balloting. Mets GM Sandy Alderson took exception to the result, writing on his Twitter page Sunday: "Wright vs. Sandoval: A city of 8 million was outvoted by a city of 800,000." ... Mets RHP R.A. Dickey, who leads the majors with 12 wins, also was added to the NL squad by manager Tony La Russa. ... Dodgers injured CF Matt Kemp was voted in by the fans as the NL's third starting outfielder, but won't be able to play because of his hamstring injury.