LOS ANGELES - Matt Harvey looked weary.
Early in his start Saturday, the Mets' ace 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 every mistake.
Dan Warthen went to the mound during a bases-loaded mess in the fifth inning, part pitching coach, part cut man with a wobbly legged boxer on his hands.
The offensively challenged Mets needed more from Harvey in a 4-3 loss before a Fourth of July crowd of 51,252.
Mets manager Terry Collins slotted three straight lefties atop his lineup in an attempt to combat Dodgers righthander Zack Greinke, who tossed seven shutout frames to extend his scoreless streak to 272/3 innings, the longest stretch of his career.
With the bats quiet, and on a day in which he fought with his command, Harvey was left to fend for himself. By the time, he departed, the Mets (41-41) were on their way to their 11th loss in their 16 games and a return to the .500 mark.
It hasn't been fair, of course, that such a heavy burden has fallen on the pitching staff. Perfection, or something close to it, has been the prerequisite for the Mets to have any chance.
That unforgiving requirement has been created by an offense that has flatlined.
The Mets didn't come to life until Greinke left. They scored twice in the eighth to set up a ninth-inning rally.
With closer Kenley Jansen unavailable, the Mets pulled to within one run against reliever Pedro Baez when Juan Lagares lifted a sacrifice fly to score Ruben Tejada.
But with two outs and one on, Curtis Granderson struck out against lefthander J.P. Howell to end it.
In five innings, Harvey allowed three runs and seven hits. He also struck out four and tied a career-high with five walks, the most he issued since he was a rookie in 2012.
Harvey had allowed only one earned run in his last 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.
"I've seen consistent stuff," Collins said before the game. "Is it the stuff he had two years ago? Not yet. But it's going to get there. I think that's what we call the hangover."
But trouble trailed Harvey for most of the game. He worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the second giving up just one run on Jimmy Rollins' weak groundout.
He escaped trouble again in the third, getting an Andre Ethier pop-up after he walked Yasiel Puig to load the bases.
But the Dodgers got to him in the fifth. Adrian Gonzalez belted his second homer of the series, hammering a changeup into the rightfield stands. On the mound, a disgusted Harvey waved his right arm, exasperated by his mistake.
Later, Alberto Callaspo ripped an RBI single to give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead. After Harvey walked Rollins to load the bases yet again, Warthen jogged from the dugout to settle down Harvey before he got Greinke to fly out.
Collins waited through Harvey's slow walk back to the dugout, meeting him at the bottom of the stairway. The pitcher's afternoon was over, a stark departure from his recent form.