Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/21/12

NEW YORK -- The Los Angeles Dodgers did more damage against New York Mets starter Johan Santana than the Mets' suspect bullpen, then watched their own relievers barely hold on.

The Dodgers scored six runs in the first three innings against Santana, building an early lead before withstanding the Mets' rally for a 7-6 win Friday night at CitiField.

Matt Kemp and Luis Cruz homered for the Dodgers, with Cruz smacking his first major-league home run.

Mets manager Terry Collins said after the game the Mets will discuss options such as skipping a start or even a disabled list stint to "to get some energy back" in Santana's surgically repaired left arm. Collins said, though, the pitcher was not "hurt."

Regardless, Cruz was excited about hitting his first homer against Santana, who he said was "one of the best pitchers in the league."

"I hit it pretty good," Cruz said. "I'm very happy today. Was a big day for me. ... We've got two (wins) in a row, a streak. Hopefully we continue to play that way."

Cruz and the Dodgers were excited about continuing to make progress, with manager Don Mattingly saying before the game trade rumors of L.A. acquiring such players as Chicago Cubs starter Ryan Dempster shows the Dodgers feel "we have a chance to win."

For the Mets, they have been streaking the wrong way, losing their seventh game of their last eight and falling into a seven-game deficit in the NL East. Along with the losses, the Mets had to ponder what to do about Santana, who got off to a strong start this year in his return from left shoulder surgery, but has faltered recently.

Santana (6-7) gave up six runs in just three innings Friday, and has allowed 31 earned runs in 42 2/3 innings since his no-hitter on June 1.

"I'm OK," Santana said of his arm. "I'm just not able to execute the way I'm supposed to."

Aaron Harang (7-5) allowed three runs (one earned) on four hits in five innings for the Dodgers and was followed by five relievers.

Kenley Jansen earned his 17th save of the season with a scoreless ninth. Jordany Valdespin reached second with one out on an infield hit and throwing error by third baseman Jerry Hairston on the play.

But Jansen came back to strike out pinch hitter Justin Turner and got Andres Torres on a pop up to end the game.

Daniel Murphy tied a career-high with four hits while Valdespin tied a team record by hitting his fourth pinch-hit home run of the season.

After trailing by as much as four runs, the Mets got within one in the seventh on Valdespin's latest pinch-hit home run, a two-run shot off reliever Shawn Tolleson that made it 7-6.

The Dodgers went up 7-4 in the seventh on an RBI single by Juan Rivera, after Andre Ethier walked and stole second.

Trailing 6-2, the Mets scored a run in the fifth on Murphy's RBI double off Harang. They trimmed the deficit to 6-4 in the sixth when Scott Hairston hit a pinch-hit RBI single off reliever Josh Lindblom.

Santana struggled from the start in his second-shortest outing of the season. Kemp tagged him for a two-run homer as the Dodgers racked up four hits and took a 3-0 lead in the first.

The Mets, aided by Dodgers third baseman Jerry Hairston's error, answered with two runs on a pair of sacrifice flies in the bottom of the inning, but the Dodgers scored three runs in the next two innings to chase Santana after three.

"Obviously, the error happened there in the first, scored a couple runs, but we came back and scored," Harang said. "I went back out there and grinded it out. The last few innings, they really battled me."

Santana walked three in the second, including Ethier, to force in a run. In the third, he gave up the two-run homer to Cruz, giving the Dodgers a 6-2 lead.

"I'm not executing my pitches," Santana said. "I'm not commanding my fastball."

NOTES: Mets closer Frank Francisco (strained left oblique), out since June 23, said he will throw a bullpen session Sunday and hopes to appear in a rehab game soon after that. ... R.A. Dickey could be used in relief Saturday to spell the Mets' taxed bullpen Saturday, Collins said, adding it was Dickey's throw day. Collins also said the team could make a roster move to backup spot starter Miguel Batista. ... Right-hander Dillon Gee was in the clubhouse for the first time since undergoing surgery on his right shoulder after doctors found blood clots. Gee acknowledged he initially feared for his life before doctors calmed him, and now said he's hoping he can return by the end of the season. Collins said it was unlikely unless the team needed him in a playoff race as he wouldn't be likely to return until mid-September. ... Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley (right elbow inflammation) threw a bullpen session Friday and Mattingly said he was "pretty confident" Billingsley would start Monday in St. Louis.

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