LOS ANGELES -- There were long stretches last year when David Wright was injured, when Ike Davis was hurt, when Daniel Murphy and Jose Reyes were sidelined. There were times when manager Terry Collins filled out lineup cards that did not even resemble his ideal starting nine.
So yes, Collins can certainly sympathize with depleted teams such as the Dodgers, considering how often his own club has endured injuries to star players in recent years. In this game of survival of the fittest, he simply chooses not to.
With Dodgers outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier both out of Thursday's lineup due to injuries, the Mets took advantage of a scuffling Los Angeles club, scoring just enough to post a 3-2 victory at Dodger Stadium. Wright led the charge for the Mets, homering and driving in two runs to lead starting pitcher Chris Young over former teammate Chris Capuano.
But it was Andres Torres who gave the Mets the lead for good in the fifth, doubling home Mike Nickeas before stealing his sixth base in five games.
"It hurts when you don't have one guy in the lineup, much less a couple guys," Wright said. "I've been there. I know what it's like going through when we're missing pieces. But we have to be able to go out there and take advantage of them missing those guys."
With San Francisco's Pablo Sandoval bearing down on him on the final night of All-Star voting, Wright staked the Mets to a two-run lead with his homer to lead off the fourth, three innings after Wright doubled home Ruben Tejada for New York's first run. But the Dodgers tied the game on consecutive RBI hits from Elian Herrera and Juan Rivera against Young in the fourth.
Capuano was otherwise strong in his first start against his old team, striking out five and walking none over seven innings. But in his fifth start back from right shoulder surgery, Young was slightly better, fanning six and also walking no one over 6 1/3 innings of two-run ball.
"I knew it was going to be a battle going up against a team who knows me pretty well," Capuano said. "I was going up against a tough competitor like Chris Young. He got off to such a great start last year and then had that injury. He went through a tough time over the last year. I know what he went through to get back and I tip my hat to him. He pitched better than I did tonight. He looked as strong as ever."
The Dodgers put the tying run at second base with two outs in the seventh. But after intentionally walking Jerry Hairston, reliever Tim Byrdak struck out Dee Gordon on three pitches to end the threat.
After Jon Rauch worked around a leadoff single to pitch a scoreless eighth inning, Bobby Parnell converted his first save opportunity with a breezy ninth, closing out the Dodgers with two consecutive 100-mph fastballs to Bobby Abreu.
Afterward, Collins hinted that Parnell could possibly stick in the closer's role even after Frank Francisco returns from the disabled list.
"It's a key role to shut down the game," Parnell said, admitting that he was more amped than usual. "In theory it's really just another inning, and I think for myself that's how I have to look at it -- try not to hype it up in my own head. I just look at it as three outs that I've got to go get quickly."
Parnell, of course, is in his current role only due to Francisco's injury. That is nothing unusual for a Mets team that can empathize with the Dodgers, who have been without their best hitter -- and quite possibly the best hitter in all of baseball -- since Kemp hit the disabled list on May 14. The Dodgers also played Thursday without Ethier, who strained his left oblique Wednesday but managed to avoid the DL.
But the Mets know that no one took it easy on them when they played long stretches last season without Wright, Davis, Murphy and Reyes -- just the latest of three consecutive injury-plagued years for the team. If anything, those tribulations taught Collins that it is imperative to take advantage of teams going through rough stretches -- something the Mets did not do earlier this week against the Cubs.
"They're going to break out because they have a great club," Collins said of the Dodgers. "We've been in the situation where it's been about us, where we were going through a bad time with some of our big guys on the disabled list. You know what? That's part of the game. And in those situations, you want to make the most of it. If they're down, get them while they're down."