Johan Santana continued his domination of the Los Angeles Dodgers last month, but hasn't been the same since.
Santana will try to put aside a pair of ugly losses and improve to 6-0 against the Dodgers in Friday night's opener of a three-game home set for the New York Mets.
Santana (6-6, 3.59 ERA) yielded three hits over eight innings in a 5-0 victory at Los Angeles (49-44) on June 30. He has allowed two runs over 35 2-3 innings against the Dodgers for a 0.50 ERA in winning all five career outings versus them.
Los Angeles was missing Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Mark Ellis in last month's matchup. All three are back now, with Kemp's 4-for-12 career numbers against Santana the best of the trio while Ellis is 1 for 14 and Ethier 0 for 6.
The left-hander has allowed totals of 13 runs and 21 hits over 9 2-3 innings in two defeats since beating the Dodgers. He felt umpiring was the difference Sunday after all six runs he yielded came in the fifth inning of a 6-1 loss at Atlanta.
"We felt that we threw good pitches and didn't get the call," said Santana, who is 4-2 with a 2.14 ERA at home.
Neither the Mets nor the Dodgers are playing well, although both ended losing streaks in their latest games.
New York (47-45) snapped a season-high six-game slide with Thursday's 9-5 win at Washington. Los Angeles halted a four-game skid Wednesday on Kemp's two-run homer in the 12th inning of a 5-3 victory over Philadelphia.
David Wright homered twice and had five RBIs Thursday as R.A. Dickey improved to 13-1 for the Mets.
"From here on out, a win is obviously a big win," said Wright, who went 7 for 13 in the three-game set. "We've dug ourselves a big hole, but the funny thing is we've haven't played terribly."
Kemp became the hero Wednesday after the Dodgers scored twice in the bottom of the 10th inning, getting the tying run on an infield hit from the two-time All-Star. He then went deep for the first time since April 30.
"I think we were all getting a little frustrated and a little tired, but we fought until the end," Kemp said. "We got the 'W' and that's all that matters. It feels good to hit that home run. That's the hardest ball I've hit since I've been back (from the disabled list). I feel really good. My legs are getting under me."
Aaron Harang (6-5, 3.53) will start Friday for the Dodgers. His 5.20 career ERA against NL East opponents is his worst against any division.
The right-hander fell to 3-4 with a 6.09 ERA in nine starts against the Mets by allowing five runs over 5 2-3 innings June 29 in a 9-0 defeat. Wright is 11 for 20 against him, Jose Thole is 7 for 9 and Ruben Tejada 5 for 8.
Harang allowed four runs over seven innings Saturday, but the bullpen blew a two-run lead in a 7-6 home loss to San Diego.
Tejada went 7 for 16 and Daniel Murphy drove in six runs as New York took three of four June 28-July 1 at Dodger Stadium.