Struggling Mets nipped by Dodgers, fall six back in NL East

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LOS ANGELES — Carlos Carrasco’s rebound from two straight abbreviated starts was the second-best thing that could have happened to the Mets on Friday.

The first-best would have been a win over the Dodgers — with an offensive breakout to boot — but from here, Fantasyland is 30 miles south, the same direction in which the Mets’ season continues to head.

Despite five respectable innings from Carrasco in his longest outing of the season, the Mets crashed and burned offensively in a 3-2 loss at Dodger Stadium that pushed them six games behind the sizzling Braves in the NL East.

The loss was the Mets’ seventh in eight games. In August, they are 5-14.

The Mets have averaged 3.2 runs through the first five games of this road trip. But that number is skewered by the five runs they scored in extra innings to beat the Giants on Wednesday. In the regulation nine innings, the Mets are averaging 2.2 runs per game on the trip.

J.D. Davis grimaces after striking out with the bases loaded in the eighth inning of the Mets’ 3-2 loss to the Dodgers.
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“We’re honest with ourselves and we are aware of our situation,” Michael Conforto said. “We know we haven’t been winning a whole lot of games, so we’re going to be working our asses off in here. We are going to be searching for some energy.”

The Mets (60-62) had their chance to take control of the game in the eighth, but J.D. Davis was caught looking at strike three on a 96-mph fastball from lefty Alex Vesia to leave the bases loaded. It followed Conforto’s 10-pitch at-bat that ended with a walk.

In the inning, Jeff McNeil was caught looking at strike three on a Walker Buehler fastball — the pitch appeared inside for ball four. A disgusted McNeil flung his bat and stormed into the tunnel inside the Mets dugout. Pete Alonso followed with a squib RBI single, the team’s second infield hit of the inning.

“Jeff really had a great at-bat right there,” Conforto said. “He felt that he won that at-bat and some frustration may have come out, but he’s human and that is going to happen. I probably would have had the same reaction if I got rung up on that last pitch”

Kenley Jansen finished the Mets with a perfect ninth inning for the save. Buehler dominated the Mets over 7²/₃ innings in which he allowed two earned runs on six hits with eight strikeouts.

Carrasco allowed three earned runs on five hits with six strikeouts and one walk in a much cleaner performance than his clunker against the Dodgers on Sunday. In that game allowed six earned runs (including three homers) over two innings. In his prior start Carrasco survived only one inning against the Nationals and surrendered four earned runs.

On this night Carrasco allowed four straight batters to reach base in the third, when the Dodgers scored twice to take a 3-0 lead. Max Muncy smacked an RBI double after Trea Turner singled to begin the rally. Justin Turner followed Muncy’s double with a walk and Corey Seager knocked in a run with a single. Carrasco rebounded to avoid further damage, retiring Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger.

Carrasco was asked if it was tough falling into a three-run hole given the team’s offensive struggles.

“I never give up,” Carrasco said. “I trust my team. I trust my guys. They played hard, it was a really good game. … They should feel happy about that.”

Trea Turner doubled leading off the first for the Dodgers and scored the game’s first run on Justin Turner’s ground out. Trea Turner, who arrived with Max Scherzer from the Nationals at the trade deadline, entered with a .304/.353/.413 slash line with his new team.

Alonso blasted a first-pitch slider from Buehler over the fence in right-center to begin the fourth, pulling the Mets within 3-1. It was homer No. 27 for Alonso, who also went deep against the Giants on Tuesday.

“Just knowing that we’ve battled, with our offense being like it’s been, it just shows you how resilient these guys are,” manager Luis Rojas said. “Not having offense doesn’t mean that you play sloppy. Not having offense is just that you are not able to score and win games because you didn’t score.”

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