Mattingly dropped Ethier to fifth, moved Kemp up to third and elevated Juan Rivera to the cleanup spot for the series opener against the Cardinals.
"I don't know why today," Mattingly said. "I just want to give us a jump start a little bit. We'll try to give Matt another at-bat a day and take a little pressure off 'Dre, a change of scenery. He's been struggling."
Ethier is 2-for-20 on the first seven games of this trip, his average down to .290, to go along with reduced power numbers of 10 home runs and 51 RBIs.
There were more changes. James Loney, who had four hits Sunday, was moved up to second in the order, Rod Barajas returned to the lineup after missing two games with a groin strain and Eugenio Velez, still 0-for-2011, started at second base as Justin Sellers sat.
"We're going California surfing with James, riding the wave," said Mattingly. "I don't envision James in the 2-hole all the time, but tonight he's the right guy."
Mattingly said the consistent play of Rivera, who is hitting .327 with 17 RBIs in 31 games with the Dodgers, makes such shuffling a little easier to pull off.
"Obviously it helps having a guy there to drive in runs," Mattingly said. "Andre is battling himself and I want to relieve a little of that.
"I really wanted to keep [Ethier and Kemp] 3-4 all year and be consistent with them. 'Dre can't have better protection than Matty. The main thing is to give Matt another at-bat and take the pressure off 'Dre and have a little different feel in the lineup."