The Los Angeles Dodgers try to push their current winning streak to six straight games on Monday night when they begin a three-game series with the New York Mets.
The Dodgers finished off a three-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday night with an 8-2 triumph, getting eight strong innings from Clayton Kershaw as well as a two-run single from the pitcher.
Kershaw gave up a pair of runs, one unearned, and struck out eight batters to lower his MLB-leading earned run average to 1.88.
"Clayton took care of his own business early. It was nice to get him some runs early. Clayton attacked the strike zone like he normally does and he forces you to swing early," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
Mark Ellis homered and drove in three runs, while Adrian Gonzalez doubled home a pair of runs to help the Dodgers win for the 10th time in their past 11 games.
Los Angeles is 20-3 since the All-Star break and 37-8 since June 22, rolling past the Arizona Diamondbacks by 7 1/2 games for first place in the NL West.
The Dodgers could get even stronger if Hanley Ramirez is ready to return to the starting lineup. The shortstop has not started since Aug. 4 due to a right shoulder injury and his lone appearance over that span was a pinch-hit at-bat on Friday. He did say on Sunday it was possible he could start tonight.
Ricky Nolasco would take all the help he can get as he tries to win a third straight start for the Dodgers.
Nolasco is 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA in six starts since being acquired from the Miami Marlins, but has not pitched past the sixth inning in five straight. He logged five frames of work in a 13-4 win at St. Louis on Wednesday and all three runs he allowed were unearned.
The 30-year-old righty is 8-9 with a 3.65 ERA in 24 total starts this year and will make just his second start at Dodger Stadium since the trade. He lost his home debut on July 14, giving up three runs over five innings versus Colorado.
Nolasco has faced the Mets 25 times, including 23 starts, and is 5-8 with a 5.13 ERA.
New York began an 11-game road trip with a series win over Arizona, winning Sunday's rubber match of a three-game set 9-5. Jonathon Niese picked up the win after allowing four runs over six innings in his first start in nearly two months because of a partially torn left rotator cuff.
"It's just good to get back out there with all the guys. I'm glad it went well," Niese said.
Andrew Brown delivered a pinch-hit, three-run homer and Wilmer Flores smacked the first homer of his career in New York's fifth victory in six games. Flores has driven in a run in five straight games, with nine RBI in that time.
Ike Davis, meanwhile, scored three times and is hitting .556 over his last nine games.
Jenrry Mejia gets the call for New York tonight and will make his fourth start of the season. He is 1-1 with a 1.96 ERA, having allowed four earned runs over 18 1/3 innings while striking out 18.
He fanned seven for the second time in a start on Tuesday versus Colorado, but did not get a decision in the 3-2 win. The 23-year-old righty yielded two runs -- one earned -- over 5 1/3 innings.
Mejia will make his first career start versus the Dodgers, having faced them once before in relief.
The Dodgers won two of three in New York back in late April.