(SportsNetwork.com) - Just as right-hander Dan Haren began to ease fears about his struggles this season, he fell right back into a rut.
The Los Angeles Dodgers hope that Haren can avoid going into another tailspin on Friday night as he starts the opener of a three-game set with the New York Mets.
A personal five-start losing streak from July 5-Aug. 1 in which he pitched to a 10.03 earned from average put Haren's role in the starting rotation in doubt, but he responded by winning consecutive starts while giving up just three runs over 13 1/3 innings.
However, the 33-year-old lasted only three innings in a setback to Milwaukee on Sunday, getting charged with six runs -- three earned -- on five hits and three walks. That outing dropped Haren to 10-10 with a 4.59 ERA on the year.
He'll look to avoid another rough outing against the Mets, who he is 3-3 against lifetime with a 5.25 ERA in 11 meetings (10 starts).
The Dodgers had lost five of seven going into Thursday's rubber match of a three-game set with San Diego, but won the series with a 2-1 victory on Justin Turner's two-run homer in the eighth inning.
Carl Crawford snapped a string of 12 straight retired by Tyson Ross with an infield single off the glove of the San Diego starter to begin the eighth. Turner then stroked a hanging slider over the wall in left to give Los Angeles the lead.
"That was one of the biggest hits of my career," Turner said.
Clayton Kershaw was in line for a tough-luck defeat, but he picked up the win instead after going eight strong innings and allowing one run on three hits and two walks while striking out 10.
"I felt pretty good, kept the pitch count down," said Kershaw. "Tyson was pretty good so when Justin's ball went out, that was pretty awesome."
With the win, the Dodgers lead the San Francisco Giants by 3 1/2 games for first place in the National League West.
The Mets come in having snapped a three-game losing streak with an 8-5 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday. Lucas Duda hit a three-run homer, while Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy and Eric Campbell all had two hits and one RBI each.
Zack Wheeler won his sixth straight decision after allowing four runs -- two earned -- on four hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings.
"Every time we score, you try to go out there the next inning and put up a zero, but it didn't happen that way today," Wheeler said. "Luckily, we had the bats going all game long and were able to stay ahead of them and pull out a (win)."
Getting the call tonight for the Mets will be Jon Niese, who himself has followed up a four-start slide with consecutive wins.
The 27-year-old southpaw beat Philadelphia on Aug. 11 with seven innings of two-run ball, then scattered three runs on seven hits and two walks in six- plus innings to best the Chicago Cubs on Saturday. Niese also fanned six while improving to 7-8 with a 3.50 ERA on the year.
Niese has walked the line by giving up five homers over his last three innings, so he will try to keep the Dodgers in the ballpark and remain undefeated against them. He is 2-0 with a 4.03 ERA in five previous meetings, including a victory on May 22 in which he allowed three runs over seven frames.
The Dodgers had won six in a row over the Mets until losing that finale of a three-game set in New York.