Reporting from San Francisco
On a night that started with the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants taking the field in a pregame ceremony to remind fans at AT&T Park that they shouldn't attack each other, the chants of "Beat-L.-A." that followed were soon muted by Kershaw's arm and Kemp's legs.
But the promise offered by Kershaw and Kemp's performances in the Dodgers' 6-1 victory over the defending World Series champions was tempered by a sobering reality on the far end of the clubhouse: Rafael Furcal was hurt again.
Furcal, who has battled back problems in recent years, broke his left thumb on a head-first slide into third base in the fifth inning. The 33-year-old shortstop was so crestfallen that he started talking about the possibility of retirement.
"Every time I feel good . . ." Furcal said. "I felt good with my back. Now my finger? What do you think I'm thinking?"
Furcal said he would return to Los Angeles to be reevaluated. Injuries similar to his typically take four to six weeks to heal.
Manager Don Mattingly, who either didn't know about the results of Furcal's X-ray exam or was hiding them, spent his postgame session with reporters marveling at what Kershaw and Kemp did.
Kershaw (2-1) held the Giants to six hits and two walks over 62/3 scoreless innings. Kemp stole his seventh base on his way to scoring his team-leading eighth run, as the Dodgers improved to 6-4 while dropping the Giants to 4-6. The Dodgers are 4-1 against San Francisco this season.
Kemp drove in a run and Andre Ethier drove in two, quietly bringing his team-best RBI total to seven.
Kershaw didn't give up any hits until the third inning, when pitcher Madison Bumgarner and Miguel Tejada hit back-to-back one-out singles. Kershaw got out of the inning by getting Freddy Sanchez to ground into a double play.
Here's the scary part: Kershaw didn't feel like he had his best stuff.
"Truthfully, it was a battle," he said. "I was behind a lot of hitters."
Providing Kershaw with an early lead was Kemp, who drew a walk to lead off the second inning. Kemp appeared to be on his way back to the dugout, as Bumgarner threw to first base on a pickoff attempt as Kemp broke toward second. But Kemp beat Belt's throw to second.
When a sharply-hit ball by James Loney went off the glove of second baseman Sanchez and squirted into center field, Kemp advanced to third and didn't stop there. He beat the throw to the plate and the Dodgers were up, 1-0.
"The biggest thing on the ball that James hit is that he's running hard to third, giving [third base coach Tim Wallach] the chance to send him there," Mattingly said.
The Dodgers added four runs in a game-breaking fifth inning, the first on a solo home run by catcher Rod Barajas.
Ethier singled in Furcal, who broke his thumb earlier in the rally when he stole third base.
Kemp singled in Jamey Carroll, and Ethier scored on an error by Pat Burrell in left. This time, Kemp was hurt by his aggression. He took second on Burrell's error but was thrown out when he tried to take third.