Mets-Dodgers Preview

The Associated Press

The New York Mets' rotation is among the best in baseball, and that's been evident during a three-game winning streak.

The Los Angeles Dodgers' anemic offense has been in focus for a little longer.

Johan Santana looks to keep the visiting Mets rolling when they continue this four-game series Saturday against the punchless Dodgers.

New York's starters have a 3.48 ERA to rank fourth in the majors. They've been far better in the last three games, compiling a 1.27 ERA while walking three and striking out 25 in 27 innings during that span.

R.A. Dickey turned in the latest gem Friday, tossing eight innings and yielding three of four Los Angeles hits in a 9-0 win after New York (42-36) took the series opener 3-2 a day earlier. The Dodgers (43-35) have managed only 11 hits in this series, and are batting .177 during a 1-10 stretch while being shut out five times.

Given how well Santana (5-4, 3.00 ERA) has pitched in their matchups, Los Angeles' offensive woes could continue. The two-time Cy Young Award winner is 4-0 with a 0.65 ERA in four starts against the Dodgers. However, he hasn't faced them since his only appearance at Chavez Ravine on July 23, 2010. He missed all of last year recovering from shoulder surgery

Manager Terry Collins isn't worried about Santana's shoulder.

"My conscience is pretty clear we can ride him," Collins told the team's official website. "Like I said in spring training, if we get 28 starts out of him, we're going to be a pretty good club. If we get 32 starts out of him, we are going to be a good club."

Santana has won four of his last six starts with a 2.70 ERA, but the offense failed to produce any runs for him in those defeats. That was the case in Monday's 6-1 loss at Wrigley Field, where the left-hander allowed two runs and five hits with six strikeouts in six innings.

He'll have a hot offense supporting him Saturday. The Mets have scored 29 runs and are batting .321 during their three-game run after losing four in a row with a .232 average and 12 runs.

Daniel Murphy is 6 for 14 with three homers and nine RBIs during the win streak after matching his career high with five RBIs on Friday. The second baseman had one RBI in his previous 14 meetings with the Dodgers.

Ruben Tejada is also contributing, going 8 for 15 with five runs in three games. He has a .429 average in six games against the Dodgers - all on the road.

Los Angeles hopes to avoid its first seven-game losing streak since an eight-game slide from Aug. 22-29, 2008.

Ending the skid may be tough with Nathan Eovaldi (0-4, 4.04) scheduled to take the mound. He hasn't won since beating Arizona in his major league debut Aug. 6, and is 0-6 with a 3.86 ERA in 15 games - 11 starts - since.

The right-hander is coming off the worst performance of his career, allowing eight runs and 10 hits over five innings of an 8-0 loss at San Francisco on Monday.

"It's a good experience for him. He's going to be fine," manager Don Mattingly said. "He's not the kind of kid who's going to get rattled over that."

Eovaldi has a 2.08 ERA in two home starts this season, but is 0-1 because Los Angeles has backed him with one run in each contest.