The Los Angeles Dodgers’ faint playoff hopes are still flickering, and Matt Kemp does not want to see them extinguished if he can help it.
Kemp homered twice, Joe Blanton pitched shutout ball into the seventh inning, and the desperate Dodgers climbed within two games of the second NL wild-card spot with a 3-0 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night.
Los Angeles’ fourth straight victory, coupled with St. Louis’ 10-inning loss to Washington, gave the Dodgers a much-needed boost with four games left. After this weekend, they finish up with a three-game series against NL West champion San Francisco. The defending World Series champion Cardinals close out the regular season with a three-game set at home against Central champion Cincinnati.
”Right now we have to find a way to sneak into those playoffs,” Kemp said. ”We’re both going to be playing good teams next week, so it’s going to come down to the end. We’ve just got to keep going out there and playing hard and see where we end up.”
The loss was the Rockies’ 96th, breaking the franchise record set in their inaugural 1993 season and equaled in 2005. Blanton (10-13) scattered seven hits over six-plus innings, struck out six and walked none. The Rockies got only one runner as far as third base against the right-hander, who has only two victories in 10 starts with the Dodgers since he was acquired from Philadelphia on Aug. 3 – including a 10-8 win over the Rockies on Aug. 29 at Coors Field.
”You hope when you’re traded, you’re put in a position to pitch in the playoffs or do all you can to get in the playoffs,” Blanton said. ”You just hope you get those opportunities. You never know in this game what’s going to happen. Last year was a prime example of that. So as long as there’s games left and you’re still in it, anything could happen. That’s the way you’ve got to treat it and try to win every game.”
Ronald Belisario and Kenley Jansen each pitched a perfect inning and Brandon League did likewise in the ninth for his 15th save in 21 chances with the Dodgers and Seattle Mariners. He has converted all six opportunities with Los Angeles.
Tyler Chatwood (5-6) threw 74 pitches over four innings, allowing two runs and five hits. The 22-year-old right-hander, who began his big league career down the freeway with the Angels last season, was 4-5 with a 4.88 ERA in his 12 starts with the Rockies this season, including an 8-4 home win over the Dodgers on Aug. 28.
Kemp led off the fourth with a drive into the left field pavilion that traveled an estimated 461 feet. Hanley Ramirez singled one out later, stole second and scored on a two-out single by A.J. Ellis – his fifth consecutive game with at least one RBI after going 15 games and 44 at-bats without one.
Kemp added his 22nd homer in the eighth, an opposite-field drive to right against Josh Roenicke. It was his fifth career multihomer game and second this season, the other coming on April 14 against San Diego at Dodger Stadium.
”I’m just seeing the ball and hitting the ball, putting some good wood on mistake pitches and driving the ball. That’s what I’m used to doing and what I’m capable of doing,” Kemp said. ”As long as I can get strikes to hit, I can be a pretty good hitter. It felt good to hit balls that hard. Hopefully I can do it the next four days.”
Kemp is batting .229 with five homers and 13 RBIs in 23 games since hurting his left shoulder crashing into the center field fence at Coors Field in consecutive games last month while trying to catch triples by Josh Rutledge and Tyler Colvin.
”I feel like any other player would feel in the month of September,” Kemp said. ”Everybody’s banged up at this time of the year, so you can’t make excuses.”
Colorado manager Jim Tracy, using a patchwork lineup because of injuries to Colvin, Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Jason Giambi, Dexter Fowler, Michael Cuddyer and Eric Young Jr., had little to choose from on the bench to pinch-hit for Chatwood in the fifth with runners at the corners, two out and the Rockies trailing 2-0. So Chatwood batted for himself and grounded into a fielder’s choice before Josh Outman replaced him on the mound in the bottom half.
”That’s where we’re at right now,” first baseman Jordan Pacheco said. ”We’re not really in a position to do anything, so we’re not going to hurt anybody anymore. It stinks when you’re in that position with a chance to do something, and we haven’t had many situations like that – especially in this series. So all you can do is roll with the punches.”
NOTES: LHP Clayton Kershaw, the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, has a league-best 2.58 ERA with one start remaining. If he stays on top, he would become the first Dodgers pitcher with back-to-back ERA titles since Sandy Koufax’s career-ending five-year run from 1962-66. … The Rockies have lost eight straight on the road and 13 of their last 14 away from Coors Field. … Blanton was 1-4 with a 5.46 ERA in his previous 10 home starts with the Dodgers and Phillies. … Dodgers RHP Josh Beckett, who beat the Rockies in Game 1 of the 2007 World Series while pitching for Boston, starts Sunday’s series finale against LHP Jorge De La Rosa.