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AP - Sports

An anemic offense has the Los Angeles Dodgers in a freefall.

They usually don't have to muster much with the bats when ace Clayton Kershaw takes the mound.

Kershaw looks to continue his dominance of the New York Mets and help the Dodgers end their longest losing streak in almost four years Sunday.

Los Angeles (43-36) has dropped 11 of 12 while hitting .172 with 15 runs, scoring five during a seven-game losing streak. The team hasn't dropped eight in a row since Aug. 22-29, 2008.

The Dodgers have been shut out in five of the last six games, including each of the last two.

That swoon has dropped them into second in the NL West, one game back of San Francisco after leading by 7 1/2 on May 27.

"I don't have a lot of answers," manager Don Mattingly said. "Some really tough days right now."

Already without star center fielder Matt Kemp (hamstring), the Dodgers are also missing Andre Ethier (oblique), the team leader with 55 RBIs. Without those two in the lineup, Los Angeles has dropped the first three of this four-game set to New York (43-36) after managing three hits in Saturday's 5-0 loss.

"When you're not scoring runs, it's frustrating," rookie Scott Van Slyke said. "I mean, when you look at the Mets (Saturday), they got a double, got him over and got him in in like three pitches. So when you're scoring runs, it looks easier than it actually is.

"I think it's just going to take one game where everyone's swinging the bat well to just kind of relax everybody and get things going."

It may not take much offensively with Kershaw (5-4, 2.74 ERA) facing the Mets. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is 4-0 with a 1.39 ERA in five starts against them, tossing 16 shutout innings in two home games versus New York.

The last time Kershaw saw the Mets at home on July 7 came under similar circumstances. He yielded five hits with nine strikeouts in eight innings of a 6-0 victory, as the Dodgers avoided being swept in a four-game series. That performance also came opposite Dillon Gee, the Mets' scheduled starter for Sunday.

Kershaw has only an 0-1 record to show for his last two starts despite limiting opponents to three runs and 11 hits with 15 strikeouts in 14 innings.

He'll be facing a Mets team that has won four straight after losing four in a row. They're hitting .310 with seven home runs during the win streak, but the club's work on the mound has been far more impressive lately.

New York has a 0.75 ERA in those four games, a run Gee (5-6, 4.42) hopes to continue.

The right-hander, however, is 1-3 with a 4.26 ERA in his last four starts. He wasn't sharp in a 5-3 loss at Wrigley Field on Tuesday, yielding four runs and nine hits in five innings.

Leading the way offensively for the Mets has been Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis.

Murphy is 8 for 17 with three homers and 10 RBIs in four games, matching his RBI total from his previous 25.

Davis is 6 for 17 in that stretch, connecting for two homers and driving in eight. He had a three-run homer and a double Saturday.

"If we're going to succeed, that's how we're going to do it - by somebody else coming through when we need them," manager Terry Collins said.

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