The Dodgers are hoping to see the Clayton Kershaw from the first week of the season on Tuesday -- not the left-hander who struggled with command in his last outing.
After an off-day on Monday, Kershaw gets the ball for Los Angeles in the opener of a three-game series against the Mets at Citi Field. The Dodgers ended a six-game losing streak on Sunday, and will look to win consecutive games for the first time in almost two weeks.
Kershaw allowed five runs against the Padres on Wednesday, more than he had given up in his first three starts of 2013. He gave up three home runs in a single outing for the first time in his career at home, and walked a season-high four against a season-low five strikeouts.
"I didn't have any command and really couldn't throw the breaking ball again," Kershaw said. "I don't know what happened. I was just falling behind too much. Just inconsistent with the curveball lately. Some good, some not so good."
The Dodgers' rotation has been hit hard by injuries over the last two weeks, losing Zack Greinke, Chris Capuano and most recently Chad Billingsley to the disabled list. But Kershaw remains the staff ace, and has the ability to stifle any offense.
The Mets have scored 99 runs in 17 games, the most in the National League East and third in the NL behind the Reds and Rockies. New York is 6-3 at home, and took two of three from the Nationals over the weekend to begin a nine-game homestand.
Jonathon Niese is scheduled to make his fifth start for the Mets. The left-hander is 2-1 with a 3.80 ERA, but has yet to complete the seventh inning in any start this year.
Niese will face the Dodgers for the fourth time in his career. After three previous starts, Niese is 1-0 with a 4.12 ERA. He's allowed 20 hits in 19 2/3 innings against Los Angeles, but has 14 strikeouts.
The Mets have won series against the Padres, Marlins and Nationals at Citi Field this year.
Dodgers: Lineup change yields results
Manager Don Mattingly changed his batting order on Sunday, with Adrian Gonzalez hitting third and Matt Kemp batting cleanup. The Dodgers responded with seven runs to tie their season high.
Kemp went 3-for-5 to raise his average to .235. The outfielder broke a 4-4 tie with an RBI single in the fifth inning. Kemp also singled and scored in the seventh.
Gonzalez continued to hit, and went 2-for-4 with a double. The first baseman drove in Carl Crawford in the fifth to tie the game at 4. Gonzalez leads the Dodgers' regulars with a .385 average and 25 hits.
Mets: Carson joins bullpen
The Mets recalled left-hander Robert Carson from Triple-A Las Vegas before Sunday's win against the Nationals to add a fresh arm to the bullpen.
Carson had a 1.17 ERA in 7 2/3 innings with Las Vegas with seven strikeouts against two walks. He was once considered a favorite to make the Opening Day roster, but instead began the year in the Minor Leagues.
"He's been throwing very well," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Rob gives us another option, especially against a team like the Nationals that [has] so many left-handers in the middle of their lineup. We need to just have a left-hander available that, if you're going to get beat, you want them to get beat by somebody who doesn't hit them very good."
The Dodgers have left-handers throughout their lineup in Crawford, Gonzalez and outfielder Andre Ethier. So Carson could see action in this series.
The Mets designated lefty Aaron Laffey for assignment to make room for Carson.
• The Dodgers have scored 54 runs in 18 games, the second fewest in the NL.
• Mets third baseman David Wright has struggled against Kershaw in his career, going 2-for-12 (.167) with two strikeouts.