Matt Kemp grand slam ignites five-run comeback, then Dodgers rally to win in 11th, 11-8
It started like it would be a classic pitching day for Clayton Kershaw, turned into a testament to the new Matt Kemp and ended with a bunch of singles hitters keying one of the Dodgers’ biggest comebacks in 17 years.
Sparked by a Kemp grand slam, the Dodgers rallied from five runs down in the eighth inning to tie Saturday’s game against the Reds and then won it in the 11th after Jamey Carroll singled in the go-ahead run.
The Dodgers ended up scoring four times in the 11th to absolutely stun the Reds, 11-8, as Kemp ended up with two home runs and a career-high six RBIs.
According to STATS, LLC, it was only the fourth time since the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958 they have rallied from five runs down after the seventh inning to win, the last coming in 1994.
And it came from the most unlikely of teams, a 2011 Dodgers squad that has struggled to score this season.
Rookie Javvy Guerra, who pitched out of trouble in the 10th, got the win for his first career victory.
Light-hitting Juan Castro started the winning rally in the 11th with a leadoff single against Reds reliever Carlos Fisher. Dioneer Navarro sacrificed him to second base and Tony Gwynn Jr. singled him to third.
Which brought up Carroll, who has been hitting for average, but had driven in only one run in his last 24 games.
And even after the Reds scored once in the bottom of the 11th, the Dodgers had their biggest comeback since May 9, 1994.
Kershaw was absolutely dominant through five innings. He had given up only one hit, and picked runner off. He looked like a pitcher who could start for an All-Star team.
But on a hot and humid Cincinnati afternoon Kershaw withered. He surrendered a three-run homer to Joey Votto in a four-run sixth inning and was charged with two more in a three-run sixth.
At that point the Reds had a 7-2 lead, and given the Dodgers’ anemic offense the game seemed well in hand for Cincinnati.
Kershaw had a deceiving final line: 6 2/3 innings, six runs on six hits and two walks, with nine strikeouts.
Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto was not as dominant as Kershaw, but he left after seven innings with a five-run lead. All seemed secure.
Until the Dodgers uncharacteristically rallied with five runs in the eighth.
With one out, the Dodgers put together three consecutive singles by Gwynn, Carroll and Miles against right-handed reliever Nick Masset to score one run.
Reds Manager Dusty Baker then understandably called on left-hander Bill Bray to face Andre Ethier, who’s hitting .200 against lefties this season and .385 against right-handers.
Only Ethier drew a key full-count walk to load the bases and bring up Kemp, who has been the Dodgers’ best hitter all season. Baker countered with right-hander Logan Ondrusek.
Kemp jumped all over a 1-0 fastball, sending it out to center field for the grand slam and second home run of the game. He hit a solo home run the previous inning.
Kemp now has six grand slams for his career. The six RBIs surpassed his previous career high by one. He has 15 home runs on the season, tied for second in the National League.
The last Dodger to hit 15 home runs in his first 59 games was Shawn Green in 2001. Green went on to hit a club-record 49 that season.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Matt Kemp watches the flight of his grand slam after following through on his swing in the eighth inning against Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon. Credit: Al Behrman/ Associated Press