LOS ANGELES — Steven Matz sat quietly in a corner of the cramped visitors’ clubhouse at Dodger Stadium and enjoyed a few moments of calm before his 12th regular-season start in the big leagues. But the television nearby briefly caught his attention.
The topic was baseball. And on the screen, a presenter mentioned the Mets lefthander along with a more accomplished Dodgers southpaw, Clayton Kershaw.
If Matz, 24, is fortunate, if he avoids injury, if he stays on the field long enough to further refine his repertoire, perhaps he will make it a legitimate comparison someday.
For now, however, all Matz can do is keep plugging along, just as he did Monday night in the Mets’ 4-2 win over the Dodgers, when he showed that he still can perform without his sharpest command.
“Today was one of those days where I kind of had to grind a little bit,” Matz said. “I didn’t have my best stuff out there but I was still able to throw all my pitches and mix up my pitches, which helped me out.”
The Mets (20-11) dropped the first two games of their 11-game West Coast road trip. They have since rebounded to win three in a row.
There was plenty of chatter about the potential for fireworks between the two clubs in their first meeting since last year’s NLDS was marked by Chase Utley’s leg-breaking takeout slide of Ruben Tejada. But the hype proved anticlimactic.
Instead, the rematch was marked by Matz’s latest standout performance, his fifth consecutive victory.
The Long Island lefthander scattered six hits and allowed two runs in six innings, both on a homer by Trayce Thompson that ended Matz’s scoreless-innings streak at 16 2⁄3. That proved to be Matz’s only real mistake of the night. He struck out five and walked one while improving to 5-1 with a 2.86 ERA.
“He’s really not only throwing one or two pitches well,” catcher Kevin Plawecki said. “He’s throwing all four really well. When you’ve got a four-pitch mix working like he does with the command that he shows, it’s going to be a good outing.”
The Mets had scored only two runs against the four lefthanded starting pitchers they had faced entering the matchup with struggling Dodgers southpaw Scott Kazmir. It didn’t take long for the trend to be reversed.
Curtis Granderson slammed the first pitch he saw into the rightfield bleachers, his second leadoff homer of the season and the 37th of his career.
In the second inning, Plawecki hit his first home run of the season, a solo shot that was the Mets’ record 49th homer in their first 31 games.
The Mets added a run in the third on Yoenis Cespedes’ RBI single to left. He drove in Asdrubal Cabrera, who was hit by a pitch and advanced on a wild pitch.
Matz allowed Thompson’s two-run homer in the fourth, allowing the Dodgers to get back within one run. But he took matters into his own hands with a two-out RBI double just inside the leftfield line in the sixth.
Matz delivered his hit after Dodgers second baseman Howie Kendrick flubbed Plawecki’s grounder, which would have been the third out of the inning. For the third straight game, a Mets starting pitcher recorded an extra-base hit.
The Mets missed their chance for a big inning in the third. They loaded the bases, but Cespedes was doubled off second on a shallow flyout by Juan Lagares.
Still, the cushion was good enough for Matz, who has excelled since stumbling out of the gate. His first outing of the season was a nightmare, as he lasted only 1 2⁄3 innings against the Marlins. Since then, he’s 5-0 with a 1.09 ERA.
The Mets’ bullpen delivered three shutout innings, though it didn’t come easy. Jim Henderson took over for Antonio Bastardo with two on and one out in the eighth, fanned Yasiel Puig and got a harmless pop-up by Thompson to escape the jam.
Jeurys Familia pitched a perfect ninth to convert his 11th save in as many chances. He got the opportunity only because of a deep and versatile middle relief corps that has proved to be an early-season asset.
“They all want to know their role, obviously,” Terry Collins said. “And I think that’s an important thing to know. But one of the things we try to get through to them is look, your role is very simple. When you come into a game, get the guy out who’s standing in the batter’s box.”
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