Reeling Dodgers return home to face the Mets

The Los Angeles Dodgers couldn't get home any faster after suffering a three-game sweep at the hands of San Francisco and registering a 1-8 ledger on a recent road trip.

The Dodgers only have themselves to blame with their poor run production and haven't scored in the past three games (30 innings). They will open a seven- game residency Thursday with the first of four straight matchups with the run- rampant New York Mets.

Los Angeles was outscored by a 13-0 margin in its recent set with the Giants and dropped a 3-0 decision on Wednesday. Jerry Hairston Jr. had two of his team's four hits and Chad Billingsley was handed a tough-luck loss for allowing all three runs in six innings. He allowed nine hits, struck out seven and walked three batters in the final game of the trek.

"It's been a long nine days," catcher A.J. Ellis said.

The days could get even longer if outfielder Andre Ethier misses an extended period of time. Already without All-Star center fielder Matt Kemp, the Dodgers lost Ethier to a left oblique strain in Wednesday's loss and he is expected to undergo an MRI Thursday. He is batting .291 with 10 homers and 55 runs batted in this season.

LA is now even with San Francisco atop the National League West standings with Arizona sitting five games off the pace. The Dodgers have been shut out in three straight games for the first time since Aug. 5-8, 2007.

If there's any pitcher in the Dodgers' rotation who can get them back on top in the division it's Chris Capuano. Capuano leads the club in wins (9) and ERA (2.60), and will make his 16th start tonight. He has won four of his last five decisions and limited the LA Angels of Anaheim to a run over seven innings in a 3-1 win on Saturday.

Capuano is 9-2 overall on the season and will try to keep his unbeaten home record intact, as he stands 5-0 with a 1.57 ERA in seven starts at Dodger Stadium. However, in five career starts against the Mets, the left-handed Capuano is 0-4 with a 6.35 ERA.

The Mets scored more runs (17) on Wednesday than the Dodgers have in their last 10 games (15), and salvaged the finale of a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs with a 17-1 bashing at Wrigley Field.

Daniel Murphy was 3-for-5 with two home runs and four RBI, Ike Davis added three hits, including a homer, three runs scored and four runs batted in, and David Wright knocked in five runs for New York, which halted a four-game losing streak to win for the fifth time in the previous nine attempts. Scott Hairston had four RBI as well in the onslaught.

Murphy homered for the first time since last July (352 at-bats) and his performance caught the eye of Mets manager Terry Collins.

"I thought in the last four games he's taken much better swings," Collins said. "His balance has been better at the plate. You haven't seen that one- handed swing that he's been caught doing. You know he's going to break out. Murphy's way too good of a hitter."

Mets starter Jonathan Niese held the Cubs to one run on eight hits and a walk in seven innings for the win. The left-hander also struck out six.

"I knew that he was going to pitch well," Collins said. "In the second inning, he was furious that he gave up the run. I thought the way he approached the game today was great."

Wright, who had a 15-game hitting streak stopped recently and is hitting .357 on the season, has reached base safely in 24 of his past 25 games. His five RBI in the finale with the Cubs helped New York avoid a five-game slide for the first time since a six-game skid from last Sept. 10-15.

The Mets will resume their road trip with Chris Young on the mound tonight. Young pitched well in a no-decision versus the New York Yankees in Saturday's 4-3 loss, as he permitted four hits in six innings. Young carried a two-hitter into the seventh inning before Raul Ibanez stroked a game-tying three-run homer.

"I probably won't sleep very well," said Young. "It was the worst pitch I threw tonight, and it ultimately cost us the ballgame."

Young is 1-1 with a 3.42 earned run average in four starts this season and 1-0 in two road assignments. The right-hander and longtime San Diego Padre, who made his season debut on June 5 at Washington, is only 2-5 with a 4.02 ERA in 14 career starts against the Dodgers.

New York won five of seven meetings with the Dodgers last season.