The Dodgers have lost four straight, six of their last seven and are five games out of first. They finished this trip to Cincinnati, Washington and New York 2-7 and are 8-13 overall, their worst start after 21 games since 1993, when they finished 23 games back.
In the wake of GM Ned Colletti's indictment of the team's play, manager Joe Torre met with a group of key players before the game.
"I was a lot more comfortable -- nobody looks good losing -- but I was more comfortable with the energy," Torre said, even though his offense went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position in this game and 3-for-24 in the series. "We were into it, we battled, we weren't good enough. I think the effort was there, I don't have an issue with that."
The media was held out of the clubhouse postgame for 15 minutes, while Colletti had a "respectful five-minute conversation" with Kemp, the target of some of Colletti's harshest words during a Tuesday interview on KABC Radio. Colletti also met with Torre after the game.
Russell Martin acknowledged that the team still is out of sorts.
"We're not where we want to be," Martin said. "There are times when things aren't going well that shows the true character of a team. Right now, the character is not where it needs to be. I still think we have a lot more fight in us. All last year, we didn't worry about the other team, we focused on ourselves. We all feel if we play to our capability, we're tough to beat. Right now, we're not playing to our capability. That's got to change."
As for this game, John Ely, with only three Triple-A starts on his resume, made his Major League debut as the surprise choice in place of disabled Opening Day starter Vicente Padilla and took the loss, charged with five runs in six innings.
"To be honest, it felt pretty good," said Ely, acquired from the White Sox in the Juan Pierre trade. "I was a little bit nervous, as I'm sure anybody would be. It was a good experience. When I threw my first one in there, I calmed down a little bit."
Ely and the Dodgers might have had a better outcome had the rookie executed defensive fundamentals better in what became a four-run second inning.
With no outs and runners on the corners, the 23-year-old right-hander fielded a Jeff Francoeur comebacker, but looked back the runner at third, David Wright, instead of immediately going to second base for the double play. Because of the hesitation, the Dodgers got only a force at second and the Mets scored three more runs with the extended inning.
"That's just inexperience," said Torre. "The whole result could have been better. The best part was he gave up runs and didn't fall apart."
Take away the second inning, Ely allowed one other run in five innings, with two 1-2-3 innings. He struck out four, walked three (one intentionally) and hit a batter.
"I could have cleaned up the double-play ball, but other than that, I thought it was not a bad outing," said Ely. "The comebacker was hit sharp, I should have turned and thrown to second base. You practice that 100 times a day. I tried to do too much and threw a little too late."
Ely said he also was trying to do too much with his pitches in that second inning, but made an adjustment to just go after the hitters "instead of nitpick" at the suggestion of Martin, who slugged his second home run.
Martin, batting leadoff while Rafael Furcal rested a tight left hamstring, praised Ely.
"I like his attitude," said Martin. "He has command of the offspeed pitch and throws the cutter in fastball counts. He's just hard-nosed. It seems he doesn't give in. He's going to be really good. I don't know if he knows it yet. I like his arsenal a lot."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.