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Steven Matz and Mets' bats earn 4-2 win over Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- Steven Matz keeps winning. And the New York Mets keep depositing long balls into the bleachers.

Matz earned his fifth straight win and Curtis Granderson and Kevin Plawecki homered as the Mets beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 on Monday in the series opener at Dodger Stadium.

The Mets (20-11) maintained a half-game lead over the Washington Nationals for first place in the National League East.

With the Mets leading by two runs and the bases empty in the bottom of the seventh, Chase Utley had an uneventful leadoff groundout as a pinch hitter against Hansel Robles. It was Utley’s first at-bat against the Mets since the National League Division Series in which he fractured Ruben Tejada’s right leg in Game 2. Utley also grounded out uneventfully in the ninth.

A dropped fly ball by center fielder Juan Lagares led to an eighth-inning jam, but Jim Henderson entered with two runners on base, struck Yasiel Puig out and coaxed a foul pop out from Trayce Thompson to preserve the Mets’ two-run lead. It was Lagares’ first career major league error on a dropped fly ball. He previously had eight errors while mishandling balls after hits and four errors on throws.

The Mets have outscored opponents 39-5 in Matz’s past five starts. They have 49 homers this season. That’s the most in franchise history through 31 games, topping the 44 produced by the 1994 team that featured Bobby Bonilla.

Matz allowed two runs on six hits and one walk while striking out five in six innings. His scoreless streak ended at 16 2/3 innings on Thompson’s two-run homer in the fourth, which pulled the Dodgers to 3-2.

Matz contributed an RBI double to open a two-run lead in the sixth. The extra-base hit, which came after an error by second baseman Howie Kendrick prolonged the inning, chased opposing starter Scott Kazmir.

Matz is 5-0 with a 1.09 ERA in five starts since he allowed seven runs and recorded only five outs in his season debut against the Miami Marlins. That stellar ERA ranks third in the National League since April 17 and trails only the Cubs’ Jon Lester (1.00) and Jake Arrieta (1.04). Even with his opening start, Matz’s ERA stands at a healthy 2.86, which puts him in prime contention for the NL Rookie of the Year award.

Matz stranded runners at third base in three of the opening four innings.

Granderson set the tone right away by producing a home run against the left-handed Kazmir on the game’s first pitch. Granderson now has 37 career leadoff homers. That’s tied with Ichiro Suzuki for second among active players and trails only Jimmy Rollins’ 46.

Since joining the Mets, Granderson has 13 leadoff homers in three seasons. That’s the most in the majors during that span, one more than that of Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon. Jose Reyes owns the Mets' career record for leadoff homers, with 16.

Plawecki’s solo homer in the second staked the Mets to a 2-0 lead. After manager Terry Collins expressed disappointment with his offensive production in Queens a week ago, Plawecki has heated up on this trip. He went 4-for-10 with three doubles in San Diego.

The Mets had looked poor against left-handed starting pitching this season before arriving at Dodger Stadium, albeit while facing only four southpaws. Miami’s Adam Conley, Cincinnati’s Brandon Finnegan, San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner and San Diego’s Drew Pomeranz had combined to limit the Mets to three earned runs in 23 1/3 innings -- all on a pinch-hit three-run homer by Yoenis Cespedes against a fatigued Finnegan on April 26.

Cespedes gave the Mets a 3-0 lead with an RBI single in the third Monday, though he subsequently had a costly baserunning gaffe. With the bases loaded, Cespedes was doubled off second base on Lagares’ ensuing flyout to left field, and that ended the inning.

What’s next: Jacob deGrom (3-1, 1.99 ERA) opposes left-hander Alex Wood (1-3, 5.18) at 10:10 p.m. ET Tuesday.