Dodgers starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu follows through on a pitch against… (Justin Lane / EPA )
NEW YORK — On the surface, the Dodgers' 3-2 victory over the New York Mets on Thursday appeared significant only because it allowed them to salvage a six-game trip that started disastrously.
But in the details of the Dodgers' second win in three days at Citi Field, Adrian Gonzalez saw promise.
"You look at the greatest teams in any sport, they play fundamentally right," Gonzalez said.
The Dodgers didn't hit any home runs. They collected only five hits and were in danger of wasting another top-shelf pitching performance, this one by Hyun-Jin Ryu, who held the Mets to one run over seven innings.
BOX SCORE: Dodgers 3, Mets 2
What encouraged Gonzalez was how the Dodgers manufactured their go-ahead runs in the ninth inning. With the score tied, 1-1, Nick Punto led off with a double to right-center against left-hander Scott Rice.
Gonzalez moved him to third base by grounding out to first.
Matt Kemp drew an intentional walk, setting up a run-scoring single by Andre Ethier. Kemp scored on an infield hit by Juan Uribe against right-hander Bobby Parnell to increase the lead to 3-1.
"It's fundamentals," said Gonzalez, who said he did exactly what he wanted in his at-bat.
"The only thing on my mind is to hit the ball on the ground to the right side," Gonzalez said. "At the worst, I'll get him over. At the best, it will sneak through and I'll get an RBI hit. I know I've got Matt and Andre behind me. Who else do I want coming up with a runner on third and one out?"
Kemp's insurance run proved crucial when closer Brandon League served up a leadoff home run to Ike Davis in the bottom of the inning.
There was an air of restrained optimism in the clubhouse before the Dodgers departed for Los Angeles, where they will host the Milwaukee Brewers in a three-game series that starts Friday. Players talked about how they won three of the last four games on a trip that started with great difficultly: losing both games of a doubleheader in Baltimore and learning that Chad Billingsley would have a season-ending elbow operation.
There were reasons for the Dodgers to be upbeat that went beyond the losses they overcame.
Kemp was 11 for 24 (.458) on this trip, including two for three Thursday. He drove in five runs in the last four games. That was as many runs batted in as he had in his first 17 games of the season.
"It's a matter of time for him," Ethier said. "He's such a good player, he's going to figure something out. You can see how that helps our offense a ton."
Kemp took early batting practice multiple times over the last week and raised his average from .182 to .266.
"Matt's had a nice trip," Manager Don Mattingly said. "He went to work during the trip. All of sudden, he's looking like the old Matt Kemp again for us.
"I like the fact that Matt stayed confident. He's played long enough now to know that if he works long enough, he's going to come out of it."
Kemp's resurgence could coincide with the return of shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who is yet to play this season because of a broken thumb. Although declining to offer details, Ramirez said he will start a minor league rehabilitation assignment with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga "soon."
Perhaps as important were the efforts of Ryu and Ted Lilly, who pitched the last two games in New York. Their performances indicated the Dodgers might be able to withstand the temporary losses of injured starters Zack Greinke and Chris Capuano.
Ryu pitched a season-high seven innings Thursday, striking out eight. He has struck out 23 batters in 19 innings over his last three starts.
Lilly pitched the day before and held the Mets to a run over five innings.