Andre Ethier figured that his power might return once his hitting streak came to an end. He'd be able to relax, swing freely and start driving the ball again.
It sure didn't take long for that to happen.
Ethier belted a two-run homer the day after losing his 30-game streak, providing some instant offense for Clayton Kershaw and the struggling Los Angeles Dodgers in a 4-2 win over the New York Mets. The victory Sunday snapped a maddening four-game slide.
"It's a good way to get it going again, to get the win and get things righted a bit," said Ethier, who also singled after going 0 for 4 on Saturday night. "The last eight games have been tough for us."
The Dodgers didn't make it easy this time, either, stranding seven runners to bring their total to 32 for the series. They even failed to score with the bases loaded and none out.
Vicente Padilla gave up an RBI triple to Jose Reyes in the ninth inning to bring the tying run to the plate, but the veteran got pinch hitter Carlos Beltran to fly out and caught David Wright swinging for his fourth career save and second of the season.
"You got to start somewhere," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said, "and it starts with one."
Kershaw (4-3) played the role of stopper for Los Angeles, allowing one run on six hits and three walks in 6 2-3 innings. The left-hander struck out eight and was rarely in trouble.
"We've been scuffling a little bit," said Kershaw, who was responsible for the Dodgers' only other win in their last eight. "We've always been in the games we've been losing, but it was good to hang on at the end."
R.A. Dickey (1-4) kept New York within striking distance with his baffling knuckleball, allowing only one unearned run before Ethier's two-run shot in the seventh. That sent Dickey to his fourth loss in six starts since beating Florida in his season debut on April 3.
"I can't be too disappointed," Dickey said. "I had a fairly good knuckleball today and kept us in it against one of the best pitchers in the National League."
New York jumped ahead in the first inning when Kershaw issued a pair of walks and Ronny Paulino's two-out base hit brought home Justin Turner, but the lead didn't last long.
The Dodgers tied it in the third when Kershaw was hit by a pitch, then slid awkwardly into second base on a passed ball. He advanced to third on a groundout before scoring on a base hit by Aaron Miles through the right side of the infield.
Los Angeles pulled ahead in the fourth on an RBI grounder by Rod Barajas.
The Dodgers wasted a chance in the fifth, when Jamey Carroll led off with a grounder to first base. Ike Davis fielded the bouncing ball but his toss forced Dickey to sky high to snare the throw, and he was unable to slap on the tag while covering the bag.
Miles and Ethier followed with singles to load the bases with none out, but Matt Kemp chopped into a 1-2-3 double play and Juan Uribe grounded out to end the inning.
Uribe ended up going 0 for 4 and was hitless in 14 at-bats for the series.
The missed opportunities nearly cost the Dodgers in the seventh, when the Mets put runners on the corners with two outs. Mattingly opted to lift Kershaw for a righty-righty matchup, and Kenley Jansen promptly walked David Wright to load the bases.
He escaped the jam when he got Jason Bay to line out to left field, and the Mets went down with a whimper the rest of the way.
"When you've got the Ethiers and the Kemps and those kind of guys up there, sometimes they're going to get a hold of a mistake. And they did," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "It was the other runs that were the tough ones."
NOTES: Mike O'Connor pitched two perfect innings of relief for New York. ... The Mets put RHP Chris Young (shoulder tightness) on the DL and selected the contract of LHP Pat Misch from Triple-A Buffalo before the game. ... Fitness celebrity Jillian Michaels attended the game.