James Loney's homer ties it in ninth, Matt Kemp's wins it in 11th, 7-6
To Jason Hammel, the Colorado Rockies, the National League, et al:
Please write on the nearest blackboard 100 times, the one player on the Dodgers you absolutely do not want to beat you is Matt Kemp.
That’s easy, right? Simple, logical stuff. Kemp is enjoying an MVP-caliber season. The rest of the Dodgers, not so much.
Yet somehow with Saturday’s game tied 6-6 in the 11th inning, Hammel left one over the plate to Kemp.
Wild guess where it landed?
Kemp didn’t even hit it all that hard, but well enough to drift over the right-field fence and leave the Dodgers with a 7-6 victory on a hot, sticky day that pushed their winning streak to five games.
Kemp got some company in the long-ball department, James Loney going deep in the ninth inning to push the game into extra innings.
All this after the Dodgers rallied with five runs in the sixth inning to take a 5-4 lead over the Rockies, before a few close friends and family members.
And then – boom! – the Dodgers had barely returned to the shade of the dugout when Troy Tulowitzki hit his second two-run homer to put the Rockies up, 6-5.
The first-pitch temperature was 97 degrees, which no doubt contributed to another painfully small crowd in a nationally televised game at Dodger Stadium.
The official attendance was announced as 35,537, which was so ridiculous as to be laughable. There was maybe half that, which no doubt pleased a small group outside the stadium that asked fans to boycott the game. Official crowds are supposed to reflect tickets sold.
This crowd was so small, you could actually hear individual fans yell out encouragement, or critiques, at players. It was a spring game in a bigger setting.
Those who did attend had to be concerned the Dodgers were going to duplicate a somewhat stunning loss suffered to journeyman Kevin Millwood on Sunday in Denver. It’s his only victory of the year in four starts, after starting the season back in the minors.
The Rockies took a 3-0 lead against Chad Billingsley in the third, a Carlos Gonzalez single driving in one run and Tulowitzki hitting his first two-run homer. Gonzales singled in another run in the fourth. Gonzalez has had at least one RBI in 11 consecutive games.
With everyone melting in the sweltering afternoon, a 4-0 lead looked pretty safe after five innings. By the middle of the fourth, umpire Bob Davidson was so dehydrated he had to leave the game. He was given fluid through an IV in the umpire’s room.
Then a pair of errors and some timely hitting ignited the Dodgers in the sixth. After Millwood gave up one-out singles by Aaron Miles and Loney, Matt Belisle relieved and things started to slip away for Colorado.
Miles should have been out at home at home on a Kemp bouncer, but catcher Chris Iannetta dropped the relay for an out. Juan Rivera singled in another run, and Kemp should have been out trying to take third on the hit, but third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff dropped that relay for another error.
With first base open, the Rockies intentionally walked Andre Ethier to load the bases. Casey Blake made it a painful decision, doubling into the left-field corner to score two to tie it. Ethier also tried to score on the play, but for the second consecutive game was thrown out at the plate.
After A.J. Ellis was hit by a Belisle pitch, Jamey Carroll – batting almost 100 points lower with runners in scoring position than his overall .292 average – poked a single to right to score Blake and the Dodgers suddenly had a 5-4 lead.
The Dodgers called on reliever Hong-Chih Kuo to start the seventh, and their celebration was about to be brief. Gonzalez beat out an infield single and Tulowitzki hit his second home run – this one a line drive that landed in the second row just inside the left-field foul pole.
Then came the long ball for the Dodgers, Loney’s in the ninth to tie it and Kemp’s in the 11th to win it for Mike MacDougal (1-1), the Dodgers’ sixth pitcher. It left Kemp with an even 100 RBIs on the season. And six of Loney's eight homers have come against the Rockies.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp connects for a game-winning home run in the 11th inning against Colorado on Saturday afternoon at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times