Dodgers 2, Padres 0

Rather than feeling pressure, Matt Kemp is embracing his Triple

Crown pursuit.

Kemp took another step toward a rare possible Triple Crown with

a solo homer as he led the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 2-0 victory

over the San Diego Padres on Friday night.

Kemp went hitless in his first two at-bats before he homered

leading off the seventh inning to tie St. Louis’ Albert Pujols for

the NL lead with 37. Kemp, who leads the league with 119 RBIs, went

1 for 4 to keep his average at .326. He picked up a point on

Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun, whose average dropped one point to .329 and

into a tie with New York’s Jose Reyes, who didn’t play because of a


Kemp, who turned 27 on Friday, was asked if he was aware of his


”No, no, I don’t,” he said deadpan. Then he smiled and added,

”I do, I do. It is what it is. It’s a fun experience and I’m just

going to enjoy it.”

Ted Lilly combined with three relievers on a four-hitter,

including rookie closer Javy Guerra, who picked up his 20th save in

21 chances.

But this night and the Dodgers’ final five games belong to Kemp,

who is attempting to be the major league’s first Triple Crown

winner since Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

The last player in the National League to pull off the feat was

Ducky Medwick of St. Louis in 1937.

And if all that isn’t enough, Kemp is just three homers shy of

becoming only the fifth player in major league history to hit 40

home runs and steal 40 bases in the same season.

”What we talked about all year long is get ready to play and

play,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. ”Don’t give at-bats

away, keep fighting and at the end of the year there are going to

be a pile of numbers there because he focused.”

His 426-foot home run off Wade LeBlanc (4-6) made it 2-0 in the

seventh. Kemp had two hits in 15 at-bats against the left-handed

LeBlanc before the homer.

”He’s a Triple Crown candidate for a reason,” LeBlanc said.

”It’s a pitch now that I’d like to have back. But he did a good

piece of hitting. If you can hit one out to right-center field

here, you’ve earned it.”

Kemp is hitting .552 (16 for 29) during a seven-game hitting

streak. During the run he has four homers and nine RBIs.

”It felt pretty good,” Kemp said of the homer. ”He is someone

you have to be pretty patient with. He mixes his pitches up pretty


Both Mattingly and Kemp spoke about the need for Kemp to

continue doing what he has done and not try to change. Kemp said he

has resisted the temptation to swing for home runs.

”I haven’t did it the whole season and I’m not going to do it

the last five games,” Kemp said. ”I’m not going to change it up.

I just have to relax. When I try to hit home runs and hit too hard,

I’m not too successful.”

Said Mattingly: ”It’s been fine for him all year long, so I

don’t see making any changes as far as trying to lead him off to

try to get him any more at-bats.”

Lilly (11-14) combined with Mike MacDougal, Kenley Jensen and

Javy Guerra to hand the Padres their 19th shutout, tops in the

majors. Lilly gave up all four hits as he struck out six and walked


Guerra pitched the ninth for his 20th save in 21 chances as Los

Angeles picked up its 17th shutout.

Los Angeles’ Eugenio Velez went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts to

tie a modern major-league record by going hitless in his last 45

at-bats. He tied Pittsburgh’s Bill Bergen (1909), Dave Campbell of

San Diego and St. Louis (1973) and Milwaukee’s Craig Counsell this


”It’s a little hard to watch,” Mattingly said. ”He’s such a

good kid. He works hard, he’s a good teammate and he’s not moping

around here.”

Lilly is 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA in six starts this season against

San Diego. Lilly has allowed three runs or less in each of his last

10 outings.

LeBlanc allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings as he

set a career-high with 10 strikeouts.

Rookie Jerry Sands extended his hitting streak to a career-high

11 games with a leadoff double in the second before he scored on

Russell Mitchell’s groundout.

The Dodgers (79-77) won for the 22nd time in 30 games as they

moved two games above .500 for the first time since they were 6-4

on April 11.

Notes: The Dodgers are 12-4 against San Diego. … Los Angeles

started five rookies. … Dodgers rookie SS Dee Gordon extended his

hitting streak to a career-high 10 games. … LeBlanc became the

first Padres pitcher to reach double digits in strikeouts. … Chad

Billingsley (11-10, 4.23 ERA) will start for Los Angeles on

Saturday in the second game of the three-game series against Aaron

Harang (13-7, 3,82).