Mets' frustrating road trip ends with loss

Mets' frustrating road trip ends with loss

LOS ANGELES -- There's no place like home. At least that's what the Mets are hoping.

But as nice as it will feel to land in New York, Citi Field better offer something more tangible than simply familiarity in order to bust the Mets out of their funk.

On Sunday the Mets' 11-game West Coast swing came to an end with a 1-0 loss at the hands of the Dodgers after Casey Blake scored from first base on a two-out double by Russell Martin in the bottom of the eighth.

The Mets concluded the road trip 2-9 and now face the surging Cardinals in a three-game series beginning Tuesday night.

"It was a tough trip, very tough," manager Jerry Manuel said.

New York has suffered from a lack of offensive production over the past few weeks, and that situation didn't improve on Sunday against Los Angeles starter Clayton Kershaw.

David Wright instilled hope that the situation might be different when he doubled with two outs in the first inning, but Carlos Beltran struck out to end the inning, and the next 12 Mets did not reach base.

In the fifth, the Mets strung together back-to-back hits, but it was with two outs and in front of the pitcher's spot in the batting order. R.A. Dickey, who was later pulled from the game in the sixth because of an injury to his left leg, grounded out to cap another scoreless inning.

Jose Reyes led off the sixth with a single, only to be picked off by Kershaw. Luis Castillo made the gaffe more painful when he doubled to right field.

Then, in the seventh, yet another promising situation could not pan out. Ike Davis hit a one-out double, and Kershaw intentionally walked Jeff Francoeur to get to Josh Thole. Thole validated the Dodgers' strategy by grounding into an inning-ending double play.

Counting Sunday's shutout -- the fourth of this road trip -- the Mets have gone 16 consecutive innings without scoring a run. That streak comes off the heels of a 17-inning scoring drought they endured a couple of games ago and the back-to-back shutouts at the hands of the Giants following the All-Star break.

"Early on, facing [Tim] Lincecum, then [Barry] Zito and [Matt] Cain, kind of put us into a little funk, and we really haven't been able to get out of it," Wright said. "It's obviously frustrating."

Wright's frustration was on display after he lined out to Andre Ethier on a sharply hit ball to end the eighth inning, as he threw down his helmet down in disgust after Ethier snagged the ball.

Both Manuel and Wright cited that lineout, as well as a couple of other well-hit balls, as signs that the Mets might be on the verge of breaking out of their slump.

"At least today I saw us hit some line drives with men on base," Manuel said. "[The Dodgers] made some nice plays."

Said Wright: "We had some good at-bats. We hit some balls hard right at them, going up against one of the best young pitchers in the game. [We] just couldn't scratch through."

Adding to the frustration is the fact that the Dodgers matched the Mets in scoreless innings for much of the day.

Dickey was dominant through the first five innings, surrendering just two hits. But in the bottom of the sixth, he slipped after a pitch to Martin, prompting a mound visit from Manuel and the training staff.

Dickey appeared to be fine, and he subsequently retired Martin and Kershaw without any obvious difficulties.

But Manuel felt that Dickey was too protective of his leg when fielding back-to-back grounders and pulled the knuckleballer from the game.

"The first time out, he convinced me that he was OK," said Manuel. "And then the way he kind of went after the ball in front of home plate kind of made my decision. You know R.A., he's a bulldog, he's a tremendous competitor. He wanted to stay in that game in the worst way."

Dickey said that he hurt either his left glute or hip after landing awkwardly in the hole on the mound that forms from Kershaw's stride.

David Ely is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.