Matt Kemp continued to hit like a most-valuable player candidate on Saturday. The Dodgers continued to perform like a fourth-place team, as they lost to the not-bankrupt Arizona Diamondbacks, 6-4, at Dodger Stadium.
Kemp hit his 27th home run, a two-run blast in the third inning that drove in his league-leading 81st and 82nd runs. He stole his 28th base.
But Chad Billingsley melted down in what turned out to be a five-run sixth inning for the Diamondbacks. Kemp had something to do with the Diamondbacks’ comeback, as he let a hard-hit ball by Justin Upton get by him and turn and turn into a three-run triple.
Billingsley, who was charged with six runs and seven hits in 52/3 innings, took the loss. He walked five.
Kemp said he is bothered by the team’s results, no matter what kind of numbers he puts up individually.
“It still hurts,” he said. “I feel like I’m having a bad season just like we’re having a bad season. I’d feel great if we were in first place and I had these numbers.”
He acknowledged that he is pleased that there is chatter in baseball circles that he might soon be the best player in the game -- that is, if he isn’t already.
“It definitely makes you feel good,” Kemp said. “That’s what we work hard to do -- to be one of the best. If that’s the label I get, that would be great.”
But ... “The best players in baseball get to the World Series too,” he said. “That’s what I’m trying to do, get in the playoffs and get in the World Series.”
They won’t get there if Kemp has to continue shouldering a disproportionate amount of the offensive burden. The Dodgers went into Saturday with a total of 70 home runs and 78 steals.
Manager Don Mattingly laughed when asked where the Dodgers would be without Kemp.
“Don’t make me think bad thoughts,” Mattingly said.
Casey Blake was activated after only a two-game minor-league rehabilitation assignment, taking the place of Juan Uribe, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a groin strain.
Blake started at third base for the Dodgers on Saturday, his first major-league game since July 2.
Blake was 3 for 4 with a double, two runs and two RBIs for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga the previous day. But he said he is still bothered by the pain in his neck that sidelined him for nearly a month.
“I still feel it,” he said. “But it’s to the point where I could probably rest it until October and still maybe feel it. So we’re going to hopefully get through it, and God willing, I’ll be able to play some games without making any drastic moves to really fire it up.”
Mattingly said he intends to use Blake as a part-time player, but Blake said he hopes the arrangement is only temporary.
“I don’t see why not,” he said.