Dodgers take care of their business
The Dodgers players say the management turmoil surrounding their club shouldn’t be a distraction as they go about their business on the field.
So far they’re true to their word: Thanks to Matt Kemp’s walk-off home run in the 12th inning Thursday afternoon against the Atlanta Braves, the Dodgers are 2-0 under league control, and the trustee that Major League Baseball is sending to oversee the team hasn’t even arrived.
Kemp’s blast into Dodger Stadium’s left-field pavilion against reliever Cristhian Martinez, which came after Andre Ethier had doubled, gave the Dodgers a 5-3 victory, their fourth win in five games.
It marked the first time that the Dodgers (10-10) had won a series against Atlanta since August 2001, and it gave the Dodgers some momentum as they left town for a six-game trip against the Chicago Cubs and Florida Marlins.
It was Kemp’s second walk-off home run in a week; the centerfielder had one Sunday to beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 2-1.
“I’m just trying to stay in the zone,” said Kemp, who’s batting .411. “I feel a lot more relaxed, I feel like I have a plan up there. My last two games, I’ve struck out a couple times, but I like to stay aggressive.”
Earlier it appeared Kemp’s heroics wouldn’t be necessary, thanks to a strong outing by Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw on the first of several “throwback” days planned this season, with the teams wearing uniforms from the 1940s when the Dodgers played in Brooklyn and the Braves in Boston.
Kershaw entered the ninth inning with a 2-1 lead, thanks to home runs by Juan Uribe and Casey Blake, in front of an announced crowd of 30,711.
Kershaw got two outs in the ninth inning, and appeared set to post the Dodgers’ second complete game in as many days. Jon Garland threw one Wednesday night in the Dodgers’ 6-1 win over the Braves.
But then Kershaw gave up two singles and a walk to load the bases. Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly went to the mound but let the left-hander stay in the game instead of calling for closer Jonathan Broxton.
That backfired, as David Ross singled to drive in two runs and give Atlanta a 3-2 lead.
Neither Mattingly nor Kershaw was apologetic.
Mattingly said that when he visited Kershaw, “I really wanted to see his eyes, see what he was thinking. He just basically said, ‘I got this guy.’ Sometimes they say it and they don’t have the conviction, but he said it with conviction.”
“I felt like I had control of the game, even with the bases loaded,” Kershaw said. “For [Mattingly] to stick with me after giving up a couple hits that inning, and a walk, is a good feeling to have as a starting pitcher.”
Blake hit a run-scoring single with two out in the Dodgers’ half of the ninth to tie the score, 3-3, and send the game into extra innings.
Ethier’s double was one of two hits he had that extended his hitting streak to 18 games, a career high. The last Dodger to hit safely in 18 consecutive games was Kemp, who had a 19-game streak in mid-2008.