LOS ANGELES (AP) - There is no place left to go but up for the last-place Los Angeles Dodgers, who are even struggling at home these days.
Los Angeles absorbed its fifth consecutive loss Wednesday night when Carlos Beltran doubled twice and scored twice to lead the New York Mets to a 5-3 victory.
The Dodgers are 19-27 at Chavez Ravine, with four games left on a homestand that leads into the All-Star break. It will be the first time they've had a losing record at home at the break since 1999 (22-23).
``Right now it's a little embarrassing because our team is better than last place,' All-Star center fielder Matt Kemp said. ``We should definitely be in the hunt for one of the best records in the National League West. I think we're all disappointed in ourselves at this moment. But we need to stop making excuses, keep playing the game and turn this thing around.'
The loss put the Dodgers 14 games under .500 for the first time since the end of the 2005 season. They are 12 games behind the division-leading San Francisco Giants.
But rookie manager Don Mattingly promised his team will keep fighting, despite its position in the standings.
``We're the Los Angeles Dodgers. And you know what? We've got a lot to uphold,' Mattingly said. ``It's been a great organization, no matter what's going on, we have got to play the game right.'
The Mets have won four straight and are three games over .500 for the first time July 23, 2010.
``We started really bad, and it was a little frustrating,' closer Francisco Rodriguez said. ``But now that we're playing at the level that we're supposed to be playing, everything is a lot easier and a lot of fun for us. Hopefully, in the next month we'll have all our horses coming back and they'll make this ballclub even better.'
Hiroki Kuroda (6-10) gave up four runs and eight hits over six innings for Los Angeles, dropping to 1-5 with a 5.75 ERA in seven career starts against the Mets. It was the 36-year-old right-hander's 100th major league start after 11 seasons with Hiroshima of the Japanese Central League.
Jonathon Niese (8-7) allowed three runs and five hits over seven innings, improving to 8-4 over his last 14 starts. The left-hander has won a career-best four straight outings on the road.
Bobby Parnell pitched a perfect eighth and Rodriguez got three outs for his 22nd save in 25 chances, putting the four-time All-Star within 10 of 300.
New York scored three times in the sixth to take a 4-1 lead. Beltran led off with his second double, advanced to third on a throwing error by left fielder Eugenio Velez after he caught Daniel Murphy's fly ball, and scored when Kuroda bounced a pitch in the dirt off A.J. Ellis' chest protector. Lucas Duda and Josh Thole followed with two-out singles, and Ruben Tejada drove both of them in with a double to right-center after Kuroda was visited by pitching coach Rick Honeycutt.
The Dodgers responded with two runs in the bottom half, capitalizing on a blown call by first base umpire Greg Gibson. Andre Ethier hit an opposite-field RBI single through the left side and Kemp followed with what appeared to be a tailor-made double-play grounder to shortstop. But Gibson ruled Kemp beat the relay, bringing Mets manager Terry Collins out of the dugout for a brief argument.
Television replays showed Gibson got it wrong. Jamey Carroll took third on the fielder's choice grounder and scored on Juan Uribe's sacrifice fly - which would have been the third out.
The Mets tacked on another run in the ninth on Justin Turner's two-out RBI single. They have scored 166 runs with two out, second in the majors to Boston's 170.
``I'm going to give the credit to Dave (hitting coach Dave Hudgens),' Collins said. ``They're sticking with their plans, and he's responsible for that.
Beltran led off the Mets' fourth with a double and scored the game's first run on Duda's two-out double inside first base, but the Dodgers tied it in the bottom half.
Duda fielded Carroll's leadoff grounder wide of first base, but had no play when Niese was late covering the bag. Ethier grounded into a fielder's choice, advanced to third on Kemp's bloop single and scored on a groundout by Uribe.
Beltran misplayed Carroll's single down the line in the first inning, and Carroll ended up at second after initially being held up by coach Davey Lopes. That ended a 179-game errorless streak by Beltran, a three-time Gold Glove winner whose previous error also came at Dodger Stadium on May 5, 2009.
NOTES: Thursday's series finale will match Clayton Kershaw against Dillon Gee, who teamed up with relievers Mike O'Connor and Tim Byrdak to end Ethier's 30-game hitting streak on May 7 at New York. ... The Mets are 26-21 since 3B David Wright was sidelined because of a stress fracture in his lower back, and 4-0 since Reyes strained his left hamstring. ... Niese and Kuroda faced each other on May 6 at New York, with the Mets beating Kuroda 6-3. Niese ended up with a no-decision.
The Associated Press News Service
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