Matt Harvey looked weary.
Early in his start Saturday, the Mets righthander suffered through a nosebleed, an occasional nuisance that has plagued him since childhood. Later, it was the Dodgers who gave him problems, punishing him for his shaky command.
Dan Warthen emerged from the dugout during a bases-loaded mess in the fifth inning, part pitching coach making a mound visit, part cut man with a wobbly legged boxer on his hands.
Harvey's biggest enemy in a 4-3 loss to the Dodgers before a Fourth of July crowd of 51,252 might have been time. In this case, too much of it.
With the six-man [rotation] and the day off there . . . it's tough," Harvey said after tying a career high with five walks while allowing three runs in just five innings. "We're all having to deal with it. It's not an excuse why things didn't go well today. I've got to do a better job of finding a way to find a rhythm throughout an extended period of rest like that."
Thanks to a day off, Harvey went six days between starts for the second time this season. This one went poorly, aside from a smooth first inning.
The Dodgers chased him after tacking on their second and third runs in the fifth, one of them on Adrian Gonzalez's second homer of the series.
"With that much time off between starts, throwing once a week, I found a rhythm in the bullpen," Harvey said. "Once I got a hitter in there and got the adrenaline going a little bit, it just kind of got out of whack."
Dodgers righthander Zack Greinke tossed seven shutout frames to extend his scoreless streak to 272/3 innings, the longest stretch of his career. He sent the Mets (41-41) to their 11th loss in 16 games.
Alex Torres gave up a run in the seventh to make it 4-0, but with Greinke out of the game, the Mets rallied for two runs in the eighth to set up some dramatics in the ninth. Closer Kenley Jansen was unavailable and the Mets made it 4-3 against reliever Pedro Baez. Juan Lagares lifted a sacrifice fly to score Ruben Tejada, who earlier kicked his bat after getting hit on the elbow.
But the rally fell short when Curtis Granderson struck out against lefthander J.P. Howell to end the game.
"We had a chance to come back but we just didn't get the hits we needed," Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Harvey had allowed only one earned run in his previous three starts, the first time he pulled off that feat in any three-game stretch in his career.
The results led Collins to believe that Harvey had worked past any aftereffects from the Tommy John surgery that cost him all of last season.
Before the game, Collins noted the benefits of the six-man rotation, which is keeping Harvey within his innings limit without an in-season shutdown.
But after the game, Harvey made it clear that he wasn't a fan of the plan, just as he did earlier this season after a loss in Philadelphia. It was the only other time this season that he started with six days of rest.
The next time he must pitch with two extra days of rest, Harvey contemplated throwing two light bullpens instead of just one as he normally would.
"I had a tough day finding a rhythm," said Harvey, whose ERA rose to 3.11. "After the first, I felt pretty amped up. Everything felt good and fresh. [But] all of a sudden, it got out of whack. I really couldn't find the strike zone or find the rhythm I wanted to find."