Dodgers brush aside Diamondbacks in 7-2 victory
To the Dodgers, the Arizona Diamondbacks were a little bit like a baby brother crying for attention. You jumped into our pool! You didn’t send a star to Australia to promote the opening series this season!
So the Dodgers brushed aside the Diamondbacks the way a big brother might — put the kid in his place and move on to truly important matters. On Sunday, the Dodgers finished their fourth sweep of Arizona this season with a 7-2 victory that closed the book on the season series.
The teams played 19 games this season. The Dodgers won 15, then shrugged.
“If it was against the Giants, winning 15 of 19, I think it would be really valuable,” pitcher Zack Greinke said.
The Dodgers lead the San Francisco Giants by three games in the National League West.
“Winning games is all that really matters,” Greinke said. “If you win over 90, you should be in a pretty good position.”
The Dodgers have won 81, with 19 to play. The Diamondbacks have won 59.
The Dodgers are on pace for their second consecutive 90-victory season. The Diamondbacks have won 90 games twice in 12 years.
“It’s a good rivalry,” Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier said. “It’s still never going to be the same as what the Giants are.”
The Dodgers spotted the Diamondbacks five no-hit innings and still pounded them. Adrian Gonzalez hit two home runs and tied a career high by driving in six runs, and Matt Kemp hit a home run and threw out a runner at the plate.
Gonzalez reached 100 runs batted in for the fifth consecutive season.
“He was the offense for us today,” Kemp said. “He’s been our most consistent hitter throughout the year.”
For the Dodgers, however, the more important development might be the emergence of Kemp, who has gotten hot as Yasiel Puig has cooled. Kemp extended his hitting streak to 13 games.
Before the All-Star break, Puig had a .915 OPS, with Kemp at .760. Since the break, Kemp is at .960, with Puig at .732.
After a breakout 2011 season in which Kemp hit .324 with 39 home runs, 126 RBIs, 33 doubles and 40 stolen bases, at age 26, departing owner Frank McCourt was lauded for signing him to an eight-year, $160-million contract.
“I think I still have it in me,” Kemp said.
However, Kemp acknowledged he cannot run as well as he would like. He has been slowed by shoulder and ankle surgeries. Besides, Manager Don Mattingly said, the 2011 season might be the outlier for Kemp.
“This is more like his whole career,” Mattingly said.
Kemp is batting .282, on pace to hit 22 home runs and drive in 77 runs, with 36 doubles.
The Dodgers do not play the Diamondbacks again this season, which might be for the best after some chippiness in the seventh inning. After Gonzalez and Kemp hit consecutive home runs, Oliver Perez hit the next batter, Ethier.
Perez denied throwing at Ethier and the Dodgers did not challenge that assertion, considering the pitch was a 79-mph breaking ball. But they did challenge the immediate warning issued by umpires, since that would have meant the ejection of a Dodgers pitcher deemed to retaliate.
Mattingly went on the field to argue and was ejected. Clayton Kershaw argued from the dugout and was ejected too, from a game in which he was not playing.
Greinke, however, backed the umpires. After all, the two teams did have a brawl last season.
“It was a curveball, but back-to-back homers, sometimes pitchers get mad,” Greinke said. “I don’t know if he did it on purpose or not. I think it was a good decision by the umpire. Nothing happened afterwards. That was the key.”
So the teams went their ways for this year, the Dodgers in search of a division title, the Diamondbacks in search of a general manager.
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