(Sports Network) - Scoring runs is vital to winning baseball games. The New York Mets must have missed that memo.
The suddenly-dismal club will try to cross the plate a few times tonight in the second portion of a four-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chavez Ravine. New York is 1-7 on its 11-game, three-city tour out West and has been shut out three times on the journey. In Thursday's 2-0 loss in the series opener, Hiroki Kuroda held the Mets to five hits over eight shutout innings and Hong-Chih Kuo closed the door in the ninth for his third save.
Mets starter Hisanori Takahashi pitched well, but suffered the loss after giving up both runs and three hits through seven innings. Jeff Francoeur ended with a team-high two hits for New York, which has lost 10 of 12 games overall and is 4-13 in the past 17 road games. It has been held to four runs or less in 13 straight games, going 3-10 in that span, and is 5-13 in July after going 18-8 in June.
"Offensively, we are still struggling. We just can't put things together. At some point we have to turn this thing around," said Mets manager Jerry Manuel.
Manuel might get his wish with ace Johan Santana taking the mound tonight. Santana will try to beat the Dodgers for a second time this season, as he fired six shutout innings and allowed four hits with six strikeouts in a 4-0 victory on April 27 at Citi Field. The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner improved to 3-0 with an even stellar 0.44 earned run average in three career starts against Los Angeles.
Santana is 2-0 with a 0.58 ERA in his previous four starts and did not record a decision the last time out in Sunday's 4-3, 10-inning win at San Francisco. He limited the Giants to a run despite allowing eight hits in eight innings.
The left-hander is 7-5 with a 2.87 ERA in 20 overall starts this season and will try to even his road mark Friday night. Santana is 1-2 in 10 away starts this season.
Los Angeles has won two in a row since a six-game slide and got a big night from Matt Kemp, who homered and drove in both runs to lead the way. The Dodgers are five games behind San Diego for the lead in the National League West Division and have been getting solid pitching the past few games.
"It was a great outing and we certainly needed it," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said of Kuroda's outing. "It was a carbon-copy type of game from last night. Putting wins back to back is the most important thing."
Torre will pin tonight's pitching duties on Vicente Padilla, who will try to run his unbeaten streak to five games. Padilla is 3-0 with a 0.98 earned run average in his last four starts, but did not figure into the decision of a 5-4 loss on Sunday at St. Louis.
Padilla threw six scoreless innings before the bullpen imploded and remained at 4-2 in 10 starts this season. He has enjoyed pitching at Dodger Stadium this year, going 3-1 with a 2.20 earned run average in four starts.
The right-hander from Nicaragua has also experienced success against the Mets as evidenced by his 10-3 mark in 21 career games (12 starts).
New York, which is 7 1/2 games off the pace in the NL East, swept a three-game home series from LA back in late April and has won four of the past six matchups between the teams. The Dodgers won all three meetings with the Mets held at Chavez Ravine last year.
The Mets have lost 10 of 14 games in Hollywood since the 2007 season.