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Capuano tries to snap skid, beat Mets for first time

Shaky defense last time out resulted in Chris Capuano remaining winless since late June. History says that the left-hander's luck may not change this afternoon.

Capuano tries again to lock down his 10th victory of the season for the Los Angeles Dodgers and would need to best his former New York Mets club for the first time in his career to do so.

That's the task facing Capuano in the second portion of a three-game series. He was 9-2 after beating the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on June 23, but has lost three straight decisions since. After allowing five runs at Arizona in a setback before the All-Star break, Capuano yielded four runs on five hits over 6 2/3 frames of a 7-2 defeat to the Padres on Sunday.

However, a season-high five errors by the Dodgers led to all four runs being unearned and Capuano, now 9-5 through 19 starts, actually saw his earned run average fall a bit to 2.75.

"Cap was good, he kept us there," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "We're a better defensive club than this."

The 33-year-old will face the Mets for the seventh time in his career and is 0-5 with a 5.86 ERA against them. That includes a loss on June 28, when he allowed three runs over seven innings.

Capuano spent last season with the Mets, going 11-12 with a 4.55 ERA in 33 games (31 starts).

With Dillon Gee unlikely to pitch again this season due to right shoulder surgery stemming from blood clot, the Mets are in need of a starter for this game and have opted to go with 41-year-old Miguel Batista rather than top prospect Matt Harvey.

"We want to make sure that when he starts his Major League career, it's an auspicious start," general manager Sandy Alderson said of Harvey of New York's website. "He's knocking on the door. We can hear him. But we thought this was the best decision."

Batista will make his fifth start of the season for the Mets and first since May 19. He is 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA in the previous four starts, while notching an 0-1 mark and 4.56 ERA over 25 relief appearances.

The right-handed Batista is 8-7 with a 3.03 ERA in 37 career meetings with the Dodgers, including 17 starts.

The Dodgers opened up this series with a 7-6 victory last night, getting two- run homers from Matt Kemp and Luis Cruz. Andre Ethier, Juan Rivera and Jerry Hairston also drove in runs for Los Angeles, which has won two straight following losses in seven of eight. That kept the Dodgers 2 1/2 games behind the San Francisco Giants for first place in the NL West.

Daniel Murphy collected four hits, including two doubles, and knocked in a run for the Mets, who couldn't stay in the win column after halting a season-high six-game losing streak on Thursday.

Johan Santana was tagged for six runs on seven hits and three walks in three full frames. It marked the third straight start that the New York left-hander has surrendered at least six runs.

"I feel OK, I don't feel my best right now but at the same time I'm not trying to find excuses or anything," Santana said.

Still, New York could opt to shut down the former Cy Young winner for a start or two.

The Mets have won eight of their last 12 versus the Dodgers, winning three of four in Los Angeles from June 28-July 1.