"We're still in second place, so we have to go out and win more games," shortstop Dee Gordon said. "But it's good. We had our horse on the mound."
That horse, who was selected to his second All-Star Game earlier Sunday, looked like anything but a thoroughbred out of the gate, allowing the first four Mets batters to reach base.
But things settled down for the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner as he allowed only one of those Mets to score. He went on to give up three runs, but only one was earned, while striking out nine in seven innings.
"You've just got to keep going," said Kershaw, who admitted he didn't really remember much about the team's last victory on June 23. "That's part of this game. It's never easy sometimes and you've got to keep grinding and keep battling. You try to put up as many zeros as you can."
Despite the team losing 11 of its last 12 games, a sellout crowd of 55,359 came out to Dodger Stadium and was treated to the first home win since June 17. And on the same day the Dodgers pulled out of a deal for an indecisive Carlos Lee, the bats finally woke up, scoring eight runs for the first time since June 10.
It may not have been pretty on the field -- there were five combined errors and eight unearned runs -- but it was a victory the Dodgers will gladly take after being shut out in five of the past six days.
For the Dodgers, those errors came from Gordon, who was charged with a pair of throwing errors in the third that gave New York a two-run lead after Los Angeles tied it at 1 in the bottom of the first.
Gordon, who wouldn't reveal the thoughts going on in his head after the second error, atoned for his mistakes on offense with two hits, a run, an RBI and three stolen bases.
The fact that the Mets responded with three errors of their own didn't hurt either as the Dodgers used the extra opportunities to tie it up and take the lead.
"You can't give away three outs like that knowing they've got Kershaw on the mound," Mets starter Dillon Gee said. "The way he throws, he's going to keep it close."
A pair of New York errors got the Dodgers back in the game in the fifth when a fielding error by Justin Turner on Gordon's ground ball scored Juan Uribe. Tony Gwynn, who had reached on an error by Ronny Cedeno earlier in the inning, scored one batter later on a sacrifice fly by A.J. Ellis to tie the game at 3.
After eight days and 66 innings without a lead, the Dodgers put themselves in control in the next inning on a James Loney grounder that scored Rivera. The inning opened with a Juan Rivera walk and a ground-rule double by Adam Kennedy that put a pair of runners in scoring position.
"We're trying to get a win any way we can at this point," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "It was nice today when we get behind and throw the ball around a little bit. Early in the game, we put Kersh in a bind and he just kind of stepped up and kept us right there."
The win was Kershaw's first since June 9, but it was his third quality start in a row. Recently, the offense hasn't been able to back him, but it found a way by capitalizing on New York's mistakes.
"I don't care what Clayton's record is," Mattingly said. "I'll take him any day of the week against anybody. I think, if he's not the best pitcher in baseball, I think he's right there. In a big game in a tough situation, I'll take Kershaw any day."
Another error in the seventh allowed the Dodgers to break the game open. With the bases loaded, Rivera hit a double-play ball to reliever Miguel Batista. However, catcher Mike Nickeas couldn't catch Batista's throw and a pair of runners scored. The Dodgers went on to score four runs in the inning to ensure they wouldn't lose their eighth in a row.
Although the music was playing and there were smiles all around, there was still an understanding in the clubhouse there is another game tomorrow and this was only one victory. Yet, there was no denying it was a much-needed victory as a widespread feeling of relief from the players to the manager swept across the locker room.
"There's a long way to go in this race," Mattingly said. "But it's nice to get a win."