Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier rounds the bases after hitting a two-run… (Ray Stubblebine / Reuters )
Reporting from New York
If you're tired of reading about Andre Ethier, well, sorry.
His hitting streak might have ended at 30 games Saturday, but Ethier returned Sunday to hit a two-run home run in the seventh inning that secured the Dodgers' 4-2 victory over the New York Mets at Citi Field.
Ethier had joked after Saturday's game about how he wouldn't be spending nearly as much time speaking to reporters.
Faced with the same postgame obligations as in previous days, Ethier smirked and said, "Like I said, it's an awkward breakup. You usually come back and rekindle once or twice."
The ball Ethier hit against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey to clear the right-field wall was arguably more important than any of the hits he collected during his streak.
The victory was only the Dodgers' second in their last eight games and prevented them from being swept in what a couple of New York tabloids coined the "Bankruptcy Bowl." (The Mets have borrowed money from the league and their ownership group is being sued for $1 billion by victims of Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff.)
"We're looking for any way to get this offense rolling," said Ethier, who was two for four. "It's nice to come up with a big hit."
Manager Don Mattingly was relieved. Although he did what he could to downplay his concern in preceding days, Mattingly said this was a game the Dodgers had to win.
"Are you kidding me?" he said.
The Dodgers have lost their last four series, the most recent three to teams with sub-.500 records. Before dropping two of three to the Mets, they lost two of three each to the San Diego Padres and Chicago Cubs.
On Sunday, they did something that often spelled their doom: They loaded the bases and didn't score.
This time, they failed even more spectacularly than usual, loading the bases with none out in the fifth inning and leading, 2-1.
Matt Kemp grounded into a double play. Juan Uribe ended the inning by bouncing a ball to shortstop.
The Dodgers were five for 32 with men in scoring position in the series.
"I got a little nervous," Mattingly said. "Those usually come back to haunt you."
But Clayton Kershaw stood his ground.
Kershaw gave up two walks in the first inning that led to a run but didn't walk anyone again until the seventh inning.
"He seemed to be off early with his command," Mattingly said of Kershaw. "He kind of did what he does. He battles."
Kershaw (4-3) held the Mets to a run and six hits over 62/3 innings. He struck out eight and lowered his earned-run average to 3.12.
Kershaw also scored the Dodgers' first run. Hit on a leg by Dickey in the third inning, Kershaw reached second base on a passed ball.
"It wasn't the most graceful slide, but I'm glad I got there," he said.
A grounder by Jamey Carroll moved Kershaw to third base. Aaron Miles drove him in with a single to center field that tied the score, 1-1.
The Dodgers took the lead an inning later.
Ethier put the game out of reach.
"You couldn't ask for more than what Clayton did," Ethier said. "We've been struggling — offense, defense, you name it. He stepped up and gave our offense time to back him up."