Wearing the red road uniform of the Washington Nationals and playing about 1,500 miles from Dodger Stadium, Kurt Suzuki was as valuable to the Dodgers on Saturday night as Matt Kemp or Hanley Ramirez.
Kemp hit two home runs and Ramirez had three hits in a 3-0 Dodgers victory over the Colorado Rockies, but if not for Suzuki’s two-run double in St. Louis, the Dodgers wouldn’t have moved any closer to a postseason berth.
Suzuki’s 10th-inning drive lifted the Nationals to a 6-4 victory over the Cardinals, whose lead over the Dodgers for the second of two National League wild-card spots was reduced to two games.
Manager Don Mattingly laughed when asked if he had any words of gratitude he wanted relayed to Suzuki.
“Win tomorrow,” Mattingly said, referring to how the Nationals can secure the NL East title with a win over the Cardinals on Sunday.
The Dodgers and Cardinals both have four games remaining.
If the Dodgers and Cardinals finish the regular season with the same record, they would play a one-game play-in game, with the Dodgers designed as the home team by virtue of their superior head-to-head record. The winner would have a one-game playoff against the first wild card, probably the Atlanta Braves.
A scenario that once seemed improbable suddenly appears to be within the realm of reality, largely in part because of how the Dodgers are playing.
They have won their last four games and five of their last six. And, perhaps more important, Kemp looks like the same player who pursued the triple crown last season.
Kemp was three for four with two runs batted in and two runs scored Saturday.
Over his last four games, he is nine for 17 with three home runs, seven RBIs and six runs scored.
Kemp’s first home run, to left field, came in the fourth inning against starter Tyler Chatwood. The ball he hit reached the top half of the left-field pavilion and traveled an estimated 461 feet.
“It feels good to hit balls that hard,” Kemp said. “Hopefully, I can do it the next four or five days.”
Later in the inning, Ramirez singled, stole second base and scored on a hit by A.J. Ellis to put the Dodgers ahead, 2-0.
Ramirez stole another base in the sixth inning, his 20th of the season. This marked the fifth time in his career that he had hit 20 home runs and stolen 20 bases in the same season.
Kemp increased the Dodgers’ lead to 3-0 by hitting his 22nd home run, this one to right field.
Joe Blanton won for the second time in 10 starts for the Dodgers by holding the Rockies to seven hits over six innings.
The Rockies were playing short-handed, as they had to scratch outfielder Tyler Corvin from the lineup because of a sore left elbow. That left the Rockies with only one healthy position player on the bench, infielder Jonathan Herrera.