Dodgers-Mets Preview

The Associated Press

Matt Kemp is giving the Los Angeles Dodgers a much-needed lift.

The New York Mets could certainly use one to avoid spiraling out of the NL East race.

Kemp looks to lead the Dodgers to their third straight win as they continue this three-game series against the struggling Mets on Saturday.

In six games since returning from a hamstring injury that sidelined him six weeks, Kemp is 10 for 27 with two homers and five RBIs.

The All-Star center fielder has both of those homers and all of those RBIs in the last two games, helping the Dodgers (50-44) to a pair of wins. He had two hits, a two-run homer and a walk in a 7-6 victory in Friday's series opener.

Kemp is hitting .395 in 11 road matchups with the Mets (47-46), and is 3 for 5 against Miguel Batista, New York's scheduled starter Saturday.

The Mets have lost seven of eight with their rotation compiling a 6.29 ERA during that stretch. Johan Santana's struggles continued Friday as he was tagged for six runs in three innings, and he was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a sore ankle.

New York is already without Mike Pelfrey (Tommy John surgery), and Dillon Gee, who is recovering from a pair of procedures after having a blood clot in his shoulder this month.

Those injuries combined with the staff's struggles appeared to give New York an ideal chance to recall prospect Matt Harvey, who's 7-4 with a 3.34 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 19 starts with Triple-A Buffalo.

"His development ... needs to be independent of what we're doing at the major league level," general manager Sandy Alderson told the team's official website. "The fact that we have a need, he's knocking on the door, there's a convergence of the two things. But rightly or wrongly, we've decided Saturday is not the right time."

Batista's 4-0 record and 2.08 ERA in his last five starts against the Dodgers may have swayed the Mets, but the right-hander (1-2, 4.33 ERA) hasn't faced them since Sept. 23, 2006.

He's 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA in four starts this year, and has surrendered 10 runs over 12 1-3 innings in his last 12 appearances - all in relief.

Los Angeles will counter with Chris Capuano (9-5, 2.75), who is 0-5 with a 5.86 ERA in six career starts against the Mets. However, he hasn't appeared in Flushing since May 13, 2007.

Capuano lost his latest meeting with New York in Los Angeles on June 28, giving up three runs in seven innings of a 3-2 defeat. That was the first of three consecutive losing decisions over four starts for the left-hander, who has a 3.28 ERA in those games while receiving five total runs of support.

Poor defense did Capuano in Sunday as the Dodgers committed a season-high five errors while all four runs he allowed over 6 2-3 innings were unearned in a 7-2 loss to San Diego. It was the Dodgers' worst defensive performance since a seven-error game against Montreal on Sept. 1, 1995.

"You really just have to judge yourself by how you execute your pitches," Capuano told the team's official website. "The wins and losses, there's a lot of other stuff that has to happen for you to get a win or a loss so I try to stay disciplined and how many pitches did I execute and that's it."

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