NEW YORK -- It's not that the Mets haven't been able to hit. It's just that they haven't been able to score. And it's becoming a real problem on a nightly basis at Citi Field.
Thirteen more hits Wednesday night resulted in merely three runs for the Mets, who could not support rookie pitcher Jacob deGrom for the second straight outing. Instead, the Mets left nine runners on base in a 4-3 loss to the Dodgers at Citi Field, their sixth defeat in seven games.
"If I could explain it," second baseman Daniel Murphy said, "we would do something differently."
The Mets did not see the same types of golden opportunities that they squandered in Tuesday's loss, twice stranding runners on third base with less than two outs.
But they did have their chances.
In the third inning, they loaded the bases off Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, but Curtis Granderson struck out to end the threat. In the seventh, they put a pair of runners in scoring position with two outs, but Chris Young grounded out to strand both.
Ryu struck out nine in his return from the disabled list, giving up his only runs on Eric Campbell's two-run homer in the sixth.
"It felt good," Campbell said of his first career home run. "It's been a good couple of weeks. Two weeks that I'll remember forever, that's for sure."
deGrom was nearly as good as Ryu, holding the Dodgers to four hits in six innings -- but three of them were solo homers by Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez. Making his second career start, deGrom fell to 0-2 despite allowing a total of four runs in his first 13 big league innings (2.77 ERA).
"My job is just to go out there and give us a chance, keep us in the game," deGrom said. "I felt like I did that tonight. We were in the game the whole time."
The Dodgers scored a critical insurance run in the eighth after Chone Figgins led off with a double and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Puig walked, and Ramirez followed with a comebacker to the mound. But Wilmer Flores and Murphy both covered second base and Jeurys Familia double-clutched the throw, resulting in an RBI fielder's choice instead of an inning-ending double play.
"I saw Flores and Murphy come together," Familia said. "I didn't know what to do, throw the ball or keep it."
"He kind of freaked out because I went to the base," Flores said.
Murphy estimated that the shortstop is supposed to cover second base on that play 95 percent of the time. But because the Mets were playing Ramirez to pull in this instance, it was Murphy's responsibility to cover the bag.
"It is a unique situation," Murphy said. "It's easier when he can see the shortstop coming."
Whatever the reasons behind it, the result was another mistake for a Mets team with zero margin for error.
It has been this way for most of the season for the Mets, whose current offensive funk -- an average of 2.4 runs per game over the last eight days -- is not too far away from their season average of 4.0. Manager Terry Collins has tried everything to shake it, from riding hot hands -- that was his justification for playing Eric Young Jr. and Ruben Tejada so much last week -- to giving batters green lights on 3-0 pitches. After Wednesday's loss, Collins floated the idea of working Campbell into the outfield mix as a way to keep his hot bat in the lineup.
Maybe that will work. Nothing else has. Even with Juan Lagares and Flores each submitting three-hit games to spark the Mets, including a one-out triple from Lagares that led to a run in the ninth, nothing changed for the Mets. The game's final image was still of Wright walking off the field, bat in hand, shaking his head.
"I wish I had the answer," Collins said. "We talk a lot about big chances, big opportunities. We've just got to have somebody break loose.
"We had some chances. It's difficult to say. I wish I had an answer for you outside of, one of the things we continue to talk about is trying to put the ball in play. Tonight we did that. We just didn't hit any holes."