The Matt Kemp Show continues as Dodgers win season-high fifth in a row
The amazing turnaround of Matt Kemp continues, curbed neither by the All-Star break, ghosts of 2010 nor struggling teammates.
Kemp, who was mired in what would qualify as a mini-slump for him this season -- 0-for-13, no homers in his last 12 games -- started the second half looking much like the player from the first half.
Kemp warmed up by throwing a runner out at the plate, then hit a two-run homer and singled in two more.
The way the Dodgers’ offense has gone this season, all four runs batted in were meaningful, the Dodgers holding on for a 6-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix on Friday for their season-high fifth consecutive victory.
It’s their longest winning streak since they won nine straight from May 9-18, 2010.
In 2010, of course, Kemp had trouble on the field, on the bases, at the plate and with the coaching staff.
This season, however, he has been all the Dodgers could have hoped for -- even a little more.
With Clayton Kershaw dominating the Diamondbacks before allowing four unearned runs in the seventh inning, Kemp again led the offense.
The home run was his 23rd of the season -- that's second in the National League. The four RBIs left him with 71, third in the NL. He’s also third in stolen bases (27) and sixth in batting average (.315).
Kemp often gets little offensive assistance from teammates, but a new one made his presence felt immediately.
Juan Rivera, acquired from the Blue Jays during the All-Star break, drilled the first pitch he saw as a Dodger for a home run in the secon inning off Joe Saunders (6-8), his former teammate with the Angels. Two innings later, Rivera singled and scored on a Dioner Navarro hit.
The way Kershaw (10-4) controlled the Diamondbacks for six innings, it appeared two runs might be plenty. Then Kemp added his four RBIs, and it briefly appeared to be a rare Dodgers laugher.
But a fielding error by Juan Uribe opened the door for Arizona in the seventh. The Diamondbacks, who have not been shut out at home this season, got one run on a single by Miguel Montero before Xavier Nady crushed a three-run home run.
Since the runs were unearned, Kershaw lowered his ERA to 2.88. He has won his last five decisions against Arizona.
Hong-Chih Kuo got the first two outs and walked one before turning the ninth inning over to Javy Guerra, who promptly gave up a single. With runners on the corners, Guerra caught rookie Brandon Allen looking at a third strike to end the game.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Dodgers catcher Dioner Navarro tags out Arizona's Willie Bloomquist after a throw from center fielder Matt Kemp in the first inning Friday night in Phoenix. Credit: Christian Petersen / Getty Images