SAN DIEGO (AP) — Matt Kemp drove the ball to and over the center field fence with authority, showing that his left shoulder is OK.
Whether the Los Angeles Dodgers can say the same about their playoff chances remains to be seen.
Kemp had four hits, falling a triple shy of the cycle, and four RBIs as the Dodgers used a rare offensive outburst to beat the San Diego Padres 8-2 Wednesday to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
Los Angeles, which has struggled for the better part of a month, is tied with Milwaukee 3 games behind St. Louis for the second NL wild card berth.
“It just feels good to get a win,” Kemp said. “That’s all that really matters. Right now we have to win out to at least give us a chance to make the playoffs. We can’t worry who’s in front of us. We just have to play our game and see where we’re at at the end.”
Kemp singled and scored in the first inning, hit a two-run double in the fourth and drove a two-run homer well over the fence in center in the sixth, his 20th. His four hits and four RBIs tied his season highs. In 17 games against San Diego this year, he’s hitting .407 with seven homers and 19 RBIs.
On the disabled list twice before the All-Star break with a hamstring injury, Kemp has been bothered by an inflamed left shoulder this month.
“It kind of felt good today. I found a little something in my swing. I’m pretty good when I get good pitches to hit and have good at-bats. If I can do that, then it gives me a chance to do something for my team. I got some pretty good pitches and did my thing.”
The Dodgers won for just the 13th time in 33 games since Aug. 19, the last time they were in first place in the NL West. They then went into a dive and were overhauled by the San Francisco Giants, who clinched the division title Friday night with an 8-4 win against the Padres.
Juan Rivera hit a solo homer, Nick Punto hit three singles and scored four runs, and Adrian Gonzalez hit two RBI singles.
Aaron Harang (10-10), San Diego’s opening day starter in 2011, held San Diego to four singles in 5 1-3 innings, walked four and struck out three. He didn’t allow a hit until Everth Cabrera beat out a single to deep shortstop with two outs in the fifth. Harang loaded the bases on three straight singles with one out in the sixth before giving way to Shawn Tolleson, who got the final two outs.
“We were able to get out early and kind of continue to score and Big Show kind of throwing zeroes,” L.A. manager Don Mattingly said. “We’ve been able to get a run here and there earlier but we never added on. Today we were able to add on. We had some big hits early, and Matt adds on with his homer.”
The Dodgers had lost each of Harang’s previous five starts. They’d also lost three straight games overall to the Padres, and five of six after winning eight of the first 10 games this season.
“It’s just tough to see that time of day,” San Diego’s Yasmani Grandal said. “It goes both ways. I was actually seeing him better today than I have in the past. WE were just hitting balls straight at guys. He was the normal Harang — spotting up and down, throwing changeups and keeping the ball down.”
Harang hit a standup double in the sixth but was thrown out trying to take third on Punto’s grounder to shortstop. Kemp followed with his homer, off Anthony Bass, for an 8-0 lead.
“That was sort of April all over again,” San Diego manager Bud Black said, referring to Kemp’s early season success against the Padres. “The last few swings were more evident of what we saw earlier in the year.”
The Dodgers jumped on Clayton Richard (14-13), who had been 5-0 in his last six starts, all won by the Padres. Richard allowed six runs, four earned, on 10 hits in 3 2-3 innings, with two strikeouts and no walks.
Punto singled in the first, third and fourth innings, and scored each time.
Richard allowed four straight singles with one out in the first, with Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez each driving in a run. Gonzalez had another RBI single in the third.
Rivera, starting in right because Andre Ethier had a .143 career average against Richard, led off the fourth with a homer to left, his eighth. Matt Treanor reached on an error by left fielder Jesus Guzman. Punto singled with two outs and Kemp drove them both in with a double off the wall in center for a 6-0 lead.
San Diego’s Chase Headley hit an RBI double in the seventh and Grandal followed with an RBI single.
NOTES: Punto was in the lineup at second base because Mark Ellis was sick. … The Padres had won 14 of 17 at Petco Park since Aug. 19. … In his previous four starts at Petco Park, Richard had been 4-0 with a 0.87 ERA. … The series concludes Thursday night when Dodgers lefty Chris Capuano (11-11, 3.74) is scheduled to start against rookie righty Casey Kelly (2-2, 5.55).