Dodgers 6, Diamondbacks 4
Matt Kemp gave Arizona's fans more reason to boo him.
Shaking off a disappointing, razz-filled Home Run Derby, Kemp homered and drove in four runs in his return to Chase Field, helping the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-4 on Friday night for their fifth straight win.
Kemp had become a villain in the desert after being picked over Arizona's Justin Upton for the derby and delighted the fans by failing to get past the first round. The All-Star made up for it when the game counted, though, throwing out Willie Bloomquist in the first inning, hitting a two-run homer off Joe Saunders (6-8) in the sixth and adding a two-run single in the seventh.
''It's good to see it,'' Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. ''I've been to a few All-Star games and you really come out with a lot of energy. You get around all the guys considered around the top of the game and you'd think you'd be tired, but you really come out with a lot of energy. If it he'd had 10 in a row or something, it'd be a different thing, but that first game is a jolt.''
Kemp's jolt helped the Dodgers keep up the small bit of momentum they carried into the All-Star break.
While Kemp had a big game offensively and defensively, Juan Rivera had an impressive debut, homering in his first at-bat since being traded from Toronto. Clayton Kershaw (10-4) worked around third baseman Juan Uribe's costly error in the seventh inning to win for the fourth time in five starts and the bullpen escaped a couple of tight spots over the final two frames to help the Dodgers open the second half of the season with a win.
''It feels good,'' said Kemp, whose homer was his 23rd. ''We closed out the first half strong, winning four games in a row, and to come back tonight in get another win, we've just got to keep going.''
Arizona made a game of it after Uribe couldn't handle Chris Young's grounder in the seventh inning. All-Star Miguel Montero had a run-scoring single in the inning and Xavier Nady followed with a three-run homer off Kershaw to make it 6-4. The Diamondbacks had a runner on in the eighth inning against Mike MacDougal and two on against two relievers in the ninth, but Brandon Allen struck out looking against Javy Guerra with two on to end the game.
''They did a lot of damage with two outs on us,'' Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. ''They made mistakes, we made some mistakes, but ultimately we were unable to hold them after Joe got out of the game.''
The Dodgers picked up Rivera during the All-Star break in a trade with Toronto and he didn't take long to make an impression, hitting the first pitch he saw from Saunders out to left in the second inning. Rivera added a two-out single in the fourth and scored on Dioner Navarro's single to left. Kemp's two big hits made it 6-0,
But, after baffling the Diamondbacks through the first six innings, Kershaw struggled a bit after Uribe's boot, giving up Montero's single and Nady's third homer that cut the lead to 6-4.
MacDougal worked around a walk in the eighth inning, Hong-Chih Kuo got the first two outs of the ninth and Guerra punched out Allen with runners on first and third for his fifth save, but Kershaw was frustrated that he allowed four runs, even if they weren't earned.
''That's my fault,'' said Kershaw, who allowed five hits and struck out eight after working a perfect inning of relief in the All-Star game on Tuesday. ''Errors are going to happen. I've got to pick Juan up right there. You've got to pick up your defenders when they make errors just like they picked up me by scoring all those runs.''
Saunders had been sharp after a 2-6 start to the season, going 6-2 with a 2.73 ERA in 10 starts before the All-Star break. The left-hander baffled the Cardinals his last outing, holding them to one hit over five innings before coming out after a long rain delay.
He wasn't quite as good against the Dodgers. Saunders allowed five hits, but two of those were homers, leading to four runs - three earned - in six innings.
''It was a battle,'' said Saunders, who had won three straight. ''I didn't feel like I had my best stuff, but I tried to keep the ball in the best I could. I made two mistakes, two first-pitch fastballs to Rivera and Kemp and that was pretty much the difference. Other than that I thought I threw the ball OK.''
Notes: The Diamondbacks recalled Allen from Triple-A Reno and activated Geoff Blum from the DL before the game, sending down Juan Miranda and Wily Mo Pena. ... Saunders, who leads Arizona with 44 walks, issued just one against the Dodgers. ... Kershaw had struck out at least nine in his previous four starts.