May 22, 2014

There were sure to be some lingering bad feelings heading into this series with Chase Utley returning to Citi Field.

Inevitably, those emotions boiled over ahead of the finale.

After Utley gained some revenge for possibly being thrown at, the Los Angeles Dodgers chase their sixth victory in seven games and try to take this three-game set Sunday against the New York Mets.

Utley has been booed throughout the first two games after his controversial slide that broke then-New York shortstop Ruben Tejada's leg in the 2015 playoffs and led to a rule that ended such take-outs.

The Mets appeared to finally respond Saturday when Noah Syndergaard threw a 99 mph fastball behind Utley in the third inning of a 9-1 loss. Plate umpire Adam Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard before tossing manager Terry Collins after he raced from the dugout and vehemently argued.

Utley said he understood why the Mets would target him, though Syndergaard gave the standard pitcher's denial after the game.

"It was just a pitch that got away from me,'' he said.

The Dodgers (26-24) didn't throw at anyone for the attempted beaning, but Utley got even with a solo home run in the sixth inning and a grand slam to put the game out of reach in the seventh.

Utley, who wasn't thrown at when the Mets visited Dodger Stadium earlier this month, has nine RBIs in this series and is 6 for 11 with three homers in the last three meetings. He's also batting .375 in his last five games.

Whether there are more fireworks Sunday remains to be seen with Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw seeking his sixth straight win.

Kershaw (7-1, 1.48 ERA) has had a May to remember, allowing three runs in 42 innings with 55 strikeouts and two walks while winning all five outings.

"Our expectations are unfair, what we expect him to do," catcher A.J. Ellis told the league's official website. "Yet, he meets them."

The ace had his third shutout of the month Monday when he tossed a two-hitter in a 1-0 victory over Cincinnati. He also struck out 13 while throwing a three-hitter in a 5-0 win over the Mets on May 12.

Kershaw has gone 7-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 10 regular-season meetings, though the Mets (28-20) beat him in last year's NL Division Series.

Asdrubal Cabrera had two hits off him earlier his month, but Curtis Granderson (2 for 14), Neil Walker (1 for 12), Yoenis Cespedes (0 for 6) and Juan Lagares (0 for 10) have struggled in their all-time matchups.

Kershaw will face an injury-depleted lineup that is missing Lucas Duda, Wilmer Flores, Travis d'Arnaud and possibly David Wright after he missed Saturday's contest because his neck is bothering him.

The Mets sought to bring in some reinforcements Saturday when they acquired first baseman James Loney from San Diego for cash.

New York only had three hits Saturday en route to its second loss in eight games.

Bartolo Colon (4-3, 3.44) stopped a two-game losing streak his last time out, allowing one run over seven innings in Monday's 7-1 win at Washington. He did not fare as well when he opposed Kershaw on May 12, giving up a season-high five runs in five innings.

Utley could be a factor again as he went 3 for 3 with a homer off Colon in that contest and has gone 10 for 20 in their matchups.

Adrian Gonzalez is 12 for 27 with two homers off him. He homered Saturday and is 11 for 20 in his last five games versus New York.

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