LOS ANGELES (AP) - The New York Mets' final road trip before the All-Star break ended with a thud.
Their defense hung Dillon Gee out to dry in his gritty effort against Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, committing three errors that led to six unearned runs.
Kershaw, last year's NL Cy Young winner, didn't need any extra help in his 8-3 victory Sunday night. But the Mets obliged and increased their error total to 63 - the most in the National League.
``We didn't play good tonight. Dillon pitched fine, but we didn't help him,' manager Terry Collins said. ``We didn't run the bases very well early, we didn't catch the ball, and some walks got in the way along with some bad fielding.'
Collins rested first baseman Ike Davis and second baseman Daniel Murphy in order to stack his lineup with all right-handed bats against the left-handed Kershaw. But the plan backfired in the fifth, when the Dodgers capitalized on two errors by the right side of the infield into a pair of unearned runs that tied the score at 3 - without the benefit of a hit.
Ronny Cedeno, starting at second base for only the sixth time this season, dropped a simple throw from third baseman David Wright on a potential double-play grounder by Tony Gwynn Jr. after a leadoff walk to Juan Uribe.
Kershaw advanced both runners with a sacrifice bunt, and Uribe scored when Dee Gordon's grounder was misplayed by Justin Turner in his third start at first base. A.J. Ellis followed with a sacrifice fly.
When asked if he was sacrificing defense with this lineup, Collins said: ``I wouldn't say that with our club. Our right-handed lineup, they're pretty good defensively and they can catch the ball. Justin Turner's a guy who usually catches everything that's hit at him. In Ronny's case, there's not a guy with better hands in the National League than Ronny Cedeno. He was probably just trying to hurry the transfer to get a double play.'
Juan Rivera drew a leadoff walk in the Dodgers' sixth, advanced on Adam Kennedy's ground-rule double and came home with the go-ahead run on James Loney's grounder to second base - just his second RBI in a span of 39 at_bats.
The Dodgers blew it open with four runs in the seventh, after loading the bases with no outs. Rivera hit a comebacker to Miguel Batista, who tried to start a 1-2-3 double play, but catcher Mike Nickeas mishandled the throw as two runs scored. Kennedy followed with a sacrifice fly, and Loney made it 8-3 with an RBI double.
``As a catcher,' Nickeas said, ``we're taught to kind of hang back on those and anticipate a difficult throw - not that I think the throw was the problem. I just wasn't in the best position to handle it. I think I just came out a little early. The ball caught me a little and it went off my glove. When you give teams the ability to get some momentum, it's tough to gather it back.'
Gee (5-7) was charged with four runs - two earned - and five hits over six innings and struck out four. In his only other start at Dodger Stadium, the right-hander also was matched up against Kershaw and lost 6-0 on July 7, 2011.
``I thought Dillon had good stuff,' Nickeas said. ``Unfortunately, he's kind of been the guy on our staff that has been a little unlucky. We haven't played tremendous defense behind him and we haven't scored a ton of runs when he's been out there. But I think he's thrown much better than what his won-lost record shows. And if he keeps doing that, it'll all even out for him in the end.'
Kershaw (6-4) allowed three runs - one earned - and five hits over seven innings and struck out nine just hours after he was named to the All-Star team for the second straight season. He overcame a pair of costly throwing errors by shortstop Gordon on back-to-back plays in the third and improved his career record against the Mets to 5-0 with a 1.37 ERA in six starts.
``Dee knows everybody in this team has his back, and he bounced back awesome - the way he came back with a couple of hits and a couple of stolen bases to get us going offensively,' Kershaw said. ``That's what you do after you make some mistakes. You just put your head down and keep playing. Dee showed a lot of character tonight.'
The victory snapped a season-worst seven-game losing streak by the Dodgers, who avoided what would have been the Mets' first four-game sweep against them. After getting shut out in five of their previous six games and getting outscored 30-2 during that stretch, Los Angeles ended a string of 23 consecutive scoreless innings with a two-out RBI double in the first by Rivera.
``It was a great game for us, to bust out of our losing streak like that,' Kershaw said. ``We needed to score some runs, and we took advantage of their mistakes. We went through a rough patch, and hopefully tonight kind of broke us out of it.'
NOTES: The Mets didn't get a baserunner after Ruben Tejada's leadoff single in the fifth. ... Wright finished second in the All-Star fan balloting at 3B - a whopping 1,610,162 votes behind San Francisco's Pablo Sandoval. But he will make his sixth appearance in seven years as a result of player balloting. Mets GM Sandy Alderson took exception to the result, writing on his Twitter page Sunday: ``Wright vs. Sandoval: A city of 8 million was outvoted by a city of 800,000.' ... Mets RHP R.A. Dickey, who leads the majors with 12 wins, also was added to the NL squad by manager Tony La Russa. ... A.J. Ellis doubled two batters before Rivera's two-base hit over the head of RF Lucas Duda. It was only the second time since June 15 that Dodgers had two extra-base hits in the same inning. ... Kershaw has pitched at least five innings and allowed no more than two earned runs in 87 of his 133 career starts, and is 48-11 with 28 no-decisions in those games.
The Associated Press News Service
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