At 19-16, the Dodgers opened the four-game series trailing the first-place Giants by 2 1/2 games after a grueling 5-4 trip. The Dodgers, however, are last in the league with a .976 fielding percentage and a National League-high 33 errors.
"We have to get on track," Mattingly said. "Obviously with the Giants across the field, this is a big series. We need to play better at home. In general, we haven't picked up the ball well enough to help the guys on the hill.
"It's a series for us to establish ourselves. They've won two of three [games] both series we've played. They beat us up here. The series in San Francisco could have gone either way. But we need to establish that we can play with them. It's a little bit of a measurement."
The Dodgers are 13-7 on the road, but only 6-9 at home. Although they are fourth in the league in on-base percentage, they are 13th in runners left on base.
"Donnie felt like he needed to talk about where we ultimately want to get to and some things we can do better to better our chances," said Josh Beckett, Thursday night's starting pitcher. "It was a good meeting and we'll move forward. Every team I've been on has had these come-to-Jesus meetings."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.