NEW YORK -- It shouldn't be this hard for this team to stay above .500.
The underachieving Los Angeles Dodgers made it back to two games over break-even with Tuesday night's 9-4 win over the New York Mets. But to do it, the Dodgers had to hold on after nearly blowing a five-run lead, with relievers J.P. Howell, Chris Withrow and Brian Wilson all getting big outs with the tying run either on base or at the plate.
Eventually, thanks to a three-run ninth inning, the Dodgers could breathe a little easier. They ended up with 15 hits, the most they'd had in a game since May 3. Even with the five-run lead restored, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly used closer Kenley Jansen, who made his first appearance in eight days.
How it happened: The Dodgers took over the game (or so it seemed) with four fifth-inning runs off Mets rookie Rafael Montero, who was making just his second big-league start. Adrian Gonzalez's two-run home run was the big hit in the inning, with Carl Crawford and Juan Uribe driving in the other two runs with back-to-back singles. Josh Beckett was good for the first five innings and not so good in the sixth, but Howell came out of the bullpen to bail him out.
Beckett, who went 20 months between wins, has now won two straight starts. This one wasn't as good as the last one (or the start before that), as Beckett gave up home runs to Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda in the sixth.
Beckett then walked Wilmer Flores to bring the tying run to the plate, prompting Mattingly to bring Howell into the game. Howell got out of the sixth with no more damage, but got in trouble himself in the seventh. Then came Withrow, who loaded the bases with one out but got Duda to pop up and Flores to ground out.
Hits: Gonzalez, who had five hits in the last two games of the Arizona series last weekend, hit his second home run in as many games. Gonzalez leads the Dodgers with 11 home runs, fourth in the National League. He also had a long double to center field in the third inning. Crawford had two hits and reached base three times. Uribe also had two hits but had to leave the game because of an injury sustained while running out his ninth-inning double.
Misses: The Dodgers continue to be shockingly bad with the bases loaded. Yasiel Puig struck out to leave the bases full in the second inning, and Scott Van Slyke flied out to leave them full in the eighth. The Dodgers' team bases-loaded average, already worst in the majors, dropped to .091 (3-for-33).
Stat of the game: The win kept the Dodgers over .500, after they had fallen to only one game over break-even for the third time this month. As uninspiring as their season has been so far, they have yet to fall to .500.
Puig play of the day: Puig doesn't mind showing off his arm, but his teammates seemed more amused than impressed by his throw in the third inning Tuesday. The reason? The inning was already over. Puig caught David Wright's fly ball, but apparently didn't realize it was the third out.
Up next: Hyun-Jin Ryu (3-2, 3.00) comes off the disabled list Wednesday and will make his first start since April 27 when he faces the Mets in a 4:10 p.m. PT game at Citi Field. Rookie right-hander Jacob deGrom (0-1, 1.29) starts for the Mets.