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Miguel Batista chased early as Mets' slide continues

Miguel Batista on the mound during the first

Miguel Batista on the mound during the first inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field. (July 21, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

Just hours after announcing that ace Johan Santana would be sent to the 15-day disabled list and a week since Dillon Gee was lost to a blood clot in his right shoulder, the Mets were desperate for a quality pitching performance from Miguel Batista Saturday.

Instead, Batista was knocked out after three innings as the Mets fell to the Dodgers, 8-5, Saturday afternoon before 33,503 at Citi Field. It was the eighth loss in nine games for the Mets (47-47), who fell to .500 for the first time since being 13-13 on May 4.

"We've got to start getting some length out of our starters," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We've got to get ourselves in a situation where we get deeper in games."

The Mets cut it to 6-5 in the eighth, thanks to a pinch-hit RBI triple to right-centerfield by Daniel Murphy and a pinch-hit RBI groundout by Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Scott Hairston (2-for-5) came up with two on and two outs in the ninth but struck out.

Batista (1-3, 4.82 ERA) allowed four runs, five hits and three walks with two strikeouts as he threw 81 pitches in his fifth start of the season and first since a two-inning outing May 19. He put the Mets in a 1-0 hole, thanks to a pair of two-out walks to Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, followed by James Loney's RBI single to rightfield in a 33-pitch first inning.

"It could go better, that's for sure," said Batista, who twice referenced the length of time, 63 days, between his starts. "I've just got to get better and do my job."

Said Collins: "We had talked before the game, 80 to 90 pitches was what we were hoping to get out of him. He hadn't started in quite a while. But he got to 80 pitches in a hurry."

The Dodgers (51-44) came through with two outs again in the third as Juan Uribe hit a two-run double down the rightfield line and Luis Cruz followed up with an RBI single to center to make it 4-0.

The Mets broke through in the third as Hairston hit an RBI single to shallow right to score Jordany Valdespin, who came in to pinch hit for Batista. Jason Bay (1-for-3), who drew boos throughout Friday's 7-6 loss and after his groundout in the second, worked a seven-pitch at-bat and hit an RBI single through the left side to make it 4-2.

Ronny Cedeño (2-for-3) hit a solo home run to left off former Met Chris Capuano in the sixth to make it 6-3. Capuano (10-5, 2.81 ERA) went seven innings and allowed three runs, eight hits and one walk with nine strikeouts.

Not even R.A. Dickey (13-1, 2.83 ERA) was impervious to the Mets' pitching woes. Dickey, making his first relief appearance since April 17, 2011, allowed a two-out, two-run new-Citi Field home run to left by Uribe in the ninth for the game's final margin.

"We've hit our losing streak; we haven't had our winning streak," Dickey said. "Hopefully, we can hang on and churn a few out in a row."

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