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NYM@CHC: Santana retires Valbuena to end the threat

The Dodgers were one of baseball's biggest early-season surprises. They grabbed control of first place in the National League West on April 11 and have only just surrendered it following losses in 10 of their last 11 games.

Their most recent defeat came Friday night against the Mets, who took the second game of a four-game set in Los Angeles, 9-0.

The Dodgers, who have scored just five total runs during their season-high six-game losing streak, will be looking to take the third game of the series on Saturday as Nathan Eovaldi squares off against Johan Santana.

Injuries to key players such as Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Mark Ellis haven't exactly made things easy for the Dodgers, but manager Don Mattingly has stressed the importance of optimism and perspective.

"We just stay the course," the skipper said. "We know there's a light coming at the end of the tunnel where we have to continue to just get ready to play and keep going. We're going to get our guys back.

"We're not in a situation that we sit here and say we have to find a way by the end of the year to win like this. It's more like, OK, we have to play as well as we can through the break because we're going to get our guys back and possibly have everybody back right after the break."

Both Ellis and Ethier are expected back next week, while Kemp should return soon after the All-Star break.

Despite their struggles, the Dodgers are still in second place, as are the visiting Mets, who have won three straight.

New York has been bolstered by third baseman David Wright, whose .359 average is the best in baseball. Wright's 26 doubles rank second in the Majors, behind only Joey Votto of Cincinnati.

"It hurts when you don't have one guy in the lineup, much less a couple guys," Wright said about the Dodgers. "I've been there. I know what it's like going through when we're missing pieces. But we have to be able to go out there and take advantage of them missing those guys."

In the first two games of this series, Wright has gone 3-for-7 with a homer and a double. He has driven in three runs and scored two.

Mets: Strong history for Johan vs. Dodgers
Santana, who is 5-4 with a 3.00 ERA this season, is 2-1 wiht a 3.18 ERA and 17 strikeouts in his last three starts. The veteran lefty is 4-0 with a 0.65 ERA against the Dodgers in four career starts. Facing Los Angeles, he has averaged almost seven innings and 6.25 strikeouts per appearance.

Dodgers: Eovaldi seeks first win in 2012
Eovaldi is winless so far this season. He enters Saturday's game coming off his worst start of the year, when he allowed eight runs over five innings to San Francisco.

On the year, Eovaldi is 0-4 with a 4.04 ERA. The only win of the 22-year-old's brief Major League career came in Arizona on Aug. 6, 2011.

Worth noting
• In the month of June, the Mets are 14-13 and the Dodgers are 11-16.

• New York is 2-0 against the Dodgers this season. Los Angeles owns the all-time record, though, 310-257. Facing the Mets at home, the Dodgers are 170-118.

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