Matt Kemp going out in style, hits 38th homer in 4-2 victory
If one significant opportunity has slipped away for Matt Kemp during the season’s final days, that doesn’t mean he’s given up on another.
Kemp’s spectacular season flirted down the stretch with a triple crown, but the past couple of days the batting title has drifted out of reach.
Yet with two games left in the season, Kemp still has an outside shot at a highly exclusive club -- 40 stolen bases and 40 home runs.
Kemp hit the 40 stolen-base mark over a week ago and on Monday hit his 38th home run to lead the Dodgers to a 4-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix.
Only four players in baseball history –- Jose Canseco (A’s, 1988), Barry Bonds (Giants, ’96), Alex Rodriguez (Mariners, ’98) and Alfonso Soriano (Nationals, ’06) –- are in the 40-40 club.
Kemp’s monster three-run blast in the first inning left him needing two homers in the final two days. Tough duty, but last season he hit home runs in each of his final five games.
The home run broke his tie with Cardinal Albert Pujols for the National League lead, and pushed his No. 1 RBI total to 123 –- fourth highest in Los Angeles Dodgers history. Still ahead: No. 1 Tommy Davis, 153 (1962) Shawn Green, 125 (’01); Mike Piazza 124 (’97).
Kemp went one for four on the night, dropping his batting average to .324. Mets shortstop Jose Reyes went three for four to push his average to .333962, slightly ahead of Brewer Ryan Braun at .333032.
The victory left the Dodgers 81-78, the first time all season they've been three games over .500, and assured them a winning record this season.
The Dodgers got 5 2/3 scoreless innings from left-hander Dana Eveland, who earned the victory to raise his record to 3-2. The journeyman called up in September retired 14 of his first 15 batters. He allowed five hits, did not walk a batter, struck out five and lowered his earned-run average to 3.03.
Eveland left with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth, but Josh Lindblom came on to strike out Paul Goldschmidt.
The Diamondbacks scored their two runs without a hit in the eighth after rookie Nathan Eovaldi walked the bases loaded. Scott Elbert relieved, but an A.J. Ellis passed ball allowed arun to score. After Elbert walked the bases loaded again, reliever Mike MacDougal came on and walked in another run.
Despite some shaky defense by shortstop Dee Gordon, rookie right-hander Javy Guerra pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 21st save in 22 opportunities.
Jerry Sands singed in the eighth, extending his hitting streak to 14 games.
Photo: Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp is congratulated by teammates Jerry Sands and Dee Gordon after hitting a three-run home run in the first inning Monday night at Arizona. Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand / US Presswire