Dodgers open series against Mets

The Los Angeles Dodgers were able to get off the schneid their last time out and will try to string consecutive wins together Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series against the New York Mets at Citi Field.

The Dodgers ended a season-high six-game losing streak with Sunday's 7-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. Matt Kemp had three hits, an RBI and a run scored, while Mark Ellis ended with three RBI, including a two-run single in a four-run fifth inning.

"We've lost six straight games, so any win is good for us at the moment," said Kemp, who batted cleanup after hitting third. "We have to continue to grind it out."

Adrian Gonzalez, the third batter in the lineup after the order change, went 2-for-4 with a run scored and also knocked in a run for the Dodgers, who dropped both games of a doubleheader at Camden Yards on Saturday. Friday's game was postponed due to inclement weather.

J.P. Howell picked up his first win of the season in relief of Stephen Fife, who started the first 4 2/3 innings and was reached for four runs and seven hits with five K's and one walk.

Los Angeles has a good chance at opening this series at New York on a high note with ace and 2011 Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw on the mound. That hasn't been the case, however, in his previous two starts -- both L.A. losses. Kershaw, who opened the season 2-0 with a 0.00 earned run average over 16 innings, suffered his first loss on April 12 at Arizona, allowing all three runs in seven innings of a 3-0 loss.

Kershaw got the call again last Wednesday, only to give up five runs -- three earned -- and seven hits in 5 1/3 frames of a 7-2 home loss to San Diego. His ERA is now 1.88 through 28 2/3 innings. Kershaw did record the 1,000th strikeout of his career in that one.

The young left-hander has a perfect 5-0 mark in six career starts against the Mets to go along with a 1.37 ERA. Kershaw is 2-0 with a 2.76 ERA in three career road starts against the Mets.

New York began a nine-game homestand by taking two of three matchups with the Washington Nationals over the weekend. After the Nationals evened the series with Saturday's 7-6 triumph, the Mets took the set with Sunday's 2-0 victory behind a strong performance by Dillon Gee and the bullpen.

Gee threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings and scattered three hits with six strikeouts and three walks. LaTroy Hawkins closed out the sixth inning before Brandon Lyon, Scott Rice and Bobby Parnell each hurled a scoreless innings of relief. Parnell tallied his second save of the season.

The Mets' offense was powered by John Buck's seventh homer of the season and a sacrifice fly from Mike Baxter.

"These guys are obviously one of the best teams in the National League, and rightfully so," Mets third baseman David Wright said of the Nationals. "So to take two out of three was good for us, especially early in the year for confidence. You've got to take care of business at home. You've got to take care of business within the division, and we accomplished both."

New York will also host rival Philadelphia on the homestand.

Taking the mound for the Mets on Tuesday will be Jonathon Niese, a left-hander who dropped his last outing Thursday at Colorado. In an 11-3 drubbing at the hands of the Rockies, Niese allowed three runs and nine hits in six innings to fall to 2-1 with a 3.80 ERA in four starts.

Niese has faced the Dodgers three times in his career, going 1-0 with a 4.12 ERA in 19 2/3 innings.

New York was 3-4 against the Dodgers a season ago and has lost the last four meetings between the two clubs.