Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 3, Mets 0

NEW YORK -- At least the New York Mets weren’t no-hit!

Clayton Kershaw retired the first 18 batters he faced and ultimately tossed a three-hit shutout as the Los Angeles Dodgers won the series opener 3-0 on Thursday at Citi Field.

The Mets (49-47) have now lost five of seven games to open the second half while facing all three National League division leaders.

Jimmy Rollins’ solo homer in the third inning accounted for the only run in eight innings against Bartolo Colon. The Dodgers tacked on two runs in the ninth. After Sean Gilmartin loaded the bases, Carlos Torres entered and issued a four-pitch walk to Alberto Callaspo. Torres later surrendered a one-out sacrifice fly to Yasiel Puig.

Curtis Granderson finally ended Kershaw’s perfection with a line-drive single to right field to open the bottom of the seventh. Granderson advanced to second base when Wilmer Flores delivered a one-out single, but John Mayberry Jr. struck out and Eric Campbell grounded out to end the Mets’ lone legitimate threat.

When Lucas Duda singled to lead off the eighth, Kershaw caught him leaning and retired him in a rundown. The struggling Duda had been dropped to the No. 6 slot in the starting lineup for the first time this season.

Colon (9-9) logged eight innings before departing at 88 pitches. He allowed one run on five hits and benefited from turning double plays in three straight innings.

The Mets did avoid the embarrassment of getting no-hit for the second time this season. San Francisco’s Chris Heston performed the feat on June 9 in Queens.

The last team to be no-hit twice in a season remains the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010.

The Mets’ starting lineup had four batters below the Mendoza line, including the cleanup hitter Mayberry at .170 and the No. 5 hitter Campbell at .179.

The closest the Mets came to a baserunner before Granderson’s single was when Campbell feebly struck out in the fifth inning. The ball squirted away, and catcher Yasmani Grandal narrowly recovered and threw to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez in time to complete the play. The Mets considered, but did not ask for a replay challenge.

Kershaw had not been having the same caliber of season as teammate Zack Greinke, but the southpaw still entered Thursday's start ranked second in the majors in ERA in July at 0.38 and fifth in OPS at .425. Kershaw, who struck out 11, improved to 6-0 with a 1.34 ERA in his career against the Mets.

The Mets’ offense this season has been historically bad -- worse than its 1962 counterpart, during an inaugural season when the lovable losers went 40-120. Entering Thursday, the Mets’ team batting average stood at .235. The ’62 Mets had a .240 team batting average.

You again? An old nemesis gave Kershaw early support. Rollins’ solo homer in the third inning broke up a string of seven straight batters retired by Colon to open the game. Rollins has 31 career homers against the Mets. Only Ryan Howard (42) and Chase Utley (35) -- Rollins’ former Philadelphia Phillies teammates -- have more long balls against the Mets among active players.

What’s next: Greinke had been scheduled to take a 43⅔-inning scoreless streak into a Friday start against the Mets, but instead traveled to L.A. to be with his expectant wife. Greinke’s replacement will be left-hander Ian Thomas (0-1, 5.23 ERA), who will be making his first career start. Greinke is expected to pitch later in the series. Left-hander Jonathon Niese (5-8, 3.36 ERA) starts for the Mets in Friday’s 7:10 p.m. ET game.

Michael Cuddyer is expected to land on the DL, with Michael Conforto potentially getting the call-up from Double-A Binghamton.