Dodgers Series With Mets Begins With Eastern Flavor

(Sports Network) - Citi Field must feel many moons away for the New York Mets, who will continue their disappointing road trip tonight with the first of four straight games against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chavez Ravine.

New York was just swept in three games by the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix and fell to 1-6 on its 11-game, three-city tour out West with Wednesday's 4-3 setback in 14 innings.

Fernando Nieve gave up Chris Snyder's game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the 14th inning to suffer the loss for the Mets, who have lost nine of 11 overall and are 4-12 in their last 16 road games. New York has been held to four runs or less in 12 straight games, going 3-9 in that span, and is 5-12 in July after going 18-8 in June.

"Offensively, we're just not clicking," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said on the team's website. "We've got too many guys that are not hitting, and that's not a good way to operate."

Angel Pagan finished 3-for-5 with a home run and a pair of runs for the Mets, while Rod Barajas also went deep in defeat. Carlos Beltran drove in a run, but Jason Bay finished 0-for-6 at the plate for New York. Bay is 4-for-36 over his last 10 games and owns just three multi-hit outings since June 18.

The Mets, who are 6 1/2 games behind Atlanta for the NL East lead, will hand the ball to Japanese left-hander Hisanori Takahashi in tonight's series opener in Hollywood. Takahashi is coming off Saturday's 8-4 loss at San Francisco in which he allowed six runs and seven hits in only 2 2/3 innings. The southpaw had been 3-1 in his previous four decisions, but fell to 7-4 in 26 games (10 starts) to go along with a 4.69 ERA this season.

Takahashi beat the Dodgers back on April 27 by holding them to a run over 3 1/3 relief innings of a 10-5 triumph at Citi Field.

Los Angeles put an end to its six-game losing streak with a 2-0 victory over the Giants on Wednesday in the finale of a three-game series. Chad Billingsley threw his second career shutout and held San Francisco to five hits with three strikeouts and a pair of walks. He allowed seven runs and 10 hits through four innings in his previous start.

"Chad was great tonight," Dodgers acting manager Don Mattingly said afterward. This is pretty much what we needed. Hopefully this is something that gets us going in the other direction,"

Casey Blake hit a solo homer and drove in another run with a single for the Dodgers, who are six games off San Diego's lead in the NL West and received some disciplinary action from Major League Baseball before the contest. After three batters were hit by pitches in Wednesday's game, leading to three ejections, MLB suspended Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw along with manager Joe Torre and bench coach Bob Schaefer. Kershaw was given a five-game suspension, while Torre and Schaefer got one-game bans.

The Dodgers did a fine job with Mattingly serving as interim skipper last night and will hand the ball to Hiroki Kuroda on Thursday. Kuroda has lost three straight starts and is only 2-7 with a 4.58 ERA in his last 10 outings.

Kuroda was saddled with a tough loss in Saturday's 2-0 decision at St. Louis, as he gave up just one run and four hits in six innings of work. He struck out eight batters before falling to 7-8 in 18 trips to the mound this season.

The right-hander has never beaten the Mets before, having 0-3 with a 7.71 ERA in four career starts. Kuroda lost in Flushing back on April 27, when he gave up two runs in six innings of a 4-0 setback.

New York swept that three-game home series from LA back in late April and has won four of the past five matchups between the teams. The Dodgers won all three meetings with the Mets held at Chavez Ravine last year.

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