New York Mets starter Johan Santana has struggled since throwing the first no-hitter in franchise history. If he can duplicate his last outing against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he could consider himself back on track.
Santana takes the hill for tonight's opener of a three-game series with the Dodgers looking to win for the first time in three starts. He has sandwiched the All-Star break with a pair of rough losses, falling to 6-6 with a 3.59 earned run average through 18 starts. That includes a 5.67 ERA in seven starts since his June 1 no-hitter.
The 33-year-old lefty gave up seven runs and 13 hits in 4 2/3 frames versus the Cubs on July 6, then was drilled for six runs and eight hits in five innings in Atlanta on Sunday.
"We felt we threw good pitches, we didn't get the call," Santana said. "It's tough when we have a game like this, that one pitch can be the difference, but I didn't question anything, I was doing my job. It's too bad that a couple of pitches changed the whole game."
Santana's last victory was June 30 in Los Angeles, where he tossed eight scoreless frames of three-hit ball. It kept his perfect record versus the Dodgers intact at 5-0 with a 0.50 ERA, giving up two runs over 35 2/3 innings.
The Mets look for a second straight win tonight after snapping a season-high six-game slide on Thursday with a 9-5 win over the Washington Nationals. David Wright hit a pair of homers and drove in five runs, while Ike Davis added a homer of his own as New York's offense got to Washington starter Gio Gonzalez early.
R.A. Dickey then did his part, giving up four runs -- three earned -- on 10 hits over 7 1/3 innings to become the first 13-game winner in the NL.
"We swung the bats good against one of the best pitchers in the game. You have to like that," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We swung the bats pretty good today and R.A. battled as best he could."
The Dodgers had to battle for a victory their last time out on Wednesday and were able to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies with a 5-3 win in extra innings.
The Phils went ahead in the 10th on a two-run single by Hunter Pence, but the Dodgers countered with two runs of their own in the frame on RBI hits by Bobby Abreu and Matt Kemp.
Kemp later made his team a winner with a walk-off, two-run homer in the 12th.
"Matt had two big hits and that last one was monstrous," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "It was a nice win for us."
Kemp's hit snapped the Dodgers' four-game slide and was only their second victory in nine games. They sit 2 1/2 games back of the San Francisco Giants for first place in the NL West.
Getting the start tonight for the Dodgers is Aaron Harang, who is 6-5 with a 3.53 ERA in 18 starts this season and is coming off a no-decision versus the Padres on Saturday. The righty was charged with four runs -- three earned -- on four hits and a walk in seven innings.
Harang didn't stand much of a chance against Dickey and the Mets on June 29, charged with four earned runs over 5 2/3 frames of a 9-0 setback. That left the 34-year-old 3-4 with a 6.09 ERA in nine career outings against New York.
The Mets have won eight of their last 11 versus the Dodgers, winning three of four in Los Angeles from June 28-July 1.