Matt Kemp's walk-off home run lifts Dodgers over St. Louis, 2-1

Nobody out in the ninth inning, tying run on second base, and the hottest hitter in baseball asks his manager if he should bunt?

Matt Kemp wasn't kidding.

"I was just trying to tie the game up, man," the Dodgers center fielder said. "Do whatever it takes to help the team at least go into extra innings."

There would be no need for that.

After being instructed to swing away, Kemp connected for a two-run, walk-off home run Sunday at Dodger Stadium, lifting the Dodgers over the St. Louis Cardinals, 2-1.

Dodgers-Cardinals box score

The Dodgers mobbed Kemp as he crossed the plate after his second home run in four days against closer Ryan Franklin, celebrating a triumph that ended the Dodgers' season-high losing streak at five games.

"That's one way to turn the page," Manager Don Mattingly said.

Kemp would probably like to stay locked in place. He was three for four, collecting his fourth consecutive multi-hit game and raising his major league-leading batting average to .474.

Chad Billingsley also could continue to live in a moment like Sunday. The right-hander pitched eight scoreless innings against a scalding Cardinals lineup, striking out 11 batters and shrugging off an error by right fielder Andre Ethier that put Yadier Molina on second base with nobody out in the eighth inning after Ethier overran Molina's fly ball to right-center field.

Molina advanced to third base on Daniel Descalso's sacrifice, and Billingsley's bid to keep St. Louis scoreless was in serious jeopardy when Manager Tony La Russa sent Jon Jay to pinch-hit for pitcher Chris Carpenter.

"You have to bear down and try and get a strikeout," Billingsley said of the situation, "or, with the infield in, a ground ball."

Billingsley got his wish, striking out Jay and then retiring former Dodger Ryan Theriot on a fly ball to Ethier. Billingsley departed having given up only two hits, both to Matt Holliday.

In the ninth inning, with two out, Holliday got his third hit on a double to right-center field against Jonathan Broxton. The Dodgers closer then intentionally walked Lance Berkman before David Freese flared a run-scoring single to right field.

The Cardinals would have added to the 1-0 lead had second baseman Aaron Miles not made a spectacular lunging grab of Molina's fly ball into shallow right field to end the inning.

With the left-handed Ethier due to lead off the bottom of the ninth, La Russa brought in left-handed reliever Trever Miller. Ethier hit a double to right field to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, the longest in the majors this season.

That prompted La Russa to summon Franklin, who had yielded a homer to Kemp on Thursday on a first-pitch curveball. La Russa had his closer pitch to Kemp instead of intentionally walking him to face the light-hitting trio of Juan Uribe (.154), James Loney (.150) and Rod Barajas (.188).

Nevertheless, Kemp checked to see whether Mattingly wanted him to try to move Ethier over to third base.

"As good as he's been going," Mattingly said of Kemp, "I can't even think about letting him try to" bunt.

Kemp took a ball and then a strike, fouled off a pitch off and took another ball. He then sent Franklin's 2-and-2 sinker over the wall, the ball landing on the black tarp covering the center-field seats.

His bat was too charmed to waste on a bunt.

"We have to chip away, we have to make it a game," Kemp said of his offer. "But Donny B. told me to hit him in, and that's what I did."

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