Kemp hits 33rd HR in Dodgers loss to D-Backs

The third time through the lineup was the charm for the Arizona

Diamondbacks against Ted Lilly, who took a no-hitter into the fifth

inning before he chased during a five-run sixth by the NL West

leaders.

Rookie manager Don Mattingly lifted Lilly after 101 pitches with

the score tied at 1, but the Los Angeles Dodgers’ bullpen faltered

miserably.

Gerardo Parra tied a career best with four RBIs, and

Diamondbacks closer J.J. Putz had to quell a bases-loaded threat in

the ninth to preserve a 7-2 victory for Joe Saunders.

”You make a decision to try and get something done, and it

doesn’t work out,” Mattingly said. ”It was one where you question

yourself and thing maybe you should have given Lilly another

hitter.”

The Diamondbacks, who didn’t get their first hit until Ryan

Roberts’ one-out single in the fifth, grabbed a 5-1 lead after

Willie Bloomquist led off the sixth with a bloop single and came

all the way around on Aaron Hill’s double into the left-field

corner. After an intentional walk to Justin Upton, Hill got a huge

jump on Lilly and stole third without a throw.

That was all for the left-hander, who departed with a 1-1 count

on Paul Goldschmidt. The rookie lined Matt Guerrier’s first pitch

to left for an RBI single, and Roberts chased Guerrier with another

run-scoring single after a walk to Chris Young loaded the bases.

Parra greeted Scott Elbert with a two-run single inside third base

to cap the rally.

Lilly (9-14) was charged with three runs, three hits and three

walks in 5 1-3 innings.

”Lilly was good. The ball was moving as good as I’ve seen it

move from him, so it was good to get him out of the game,” Arizona

manager Kirk Gibson said with a chuckle. ”I guess Upton getting to

third forced Don Mattingly to take Lilly out.”

The Dodgers, beginning their final homestand of the season, took

the lead with Matt Kemp’s two-out homer. It was his 33rd of the

season and it increased his RBI total to 108 – the most by a Dodger

in both categories since 2004, when Adrian Beltre had 48 homers and

121 RBIs.

”He’s a good hitter, so what are you going to do? I tried to

make some pitches against him and they missed, so I had to come

over the plate,” Saunders said. ”It was a good pitch, I thought,

but he’s a strong guy and he’s got good pop the opposite way. But

it only counts as one.”

Arizona reduced its magic number to seven for clinching the NL

West title. The Diamondbacks, trying for the fifth division crown

in the franchise’s 14-year history, are 17-3 following a

season-worst six-game losing streak. The win put them 24 games over

.500, matching their season best.

The Diamondbacks’ fortunes have changed dramatically since July

29, when they came to Dodger Stadium for a three-game series and

acquired starter Jason Marquis and reliever Brad Ziegler on

consecutive days in trades with Washington and Oakland before

leaving Los Angeles. Since then, they have gone 28-14 to turn a

four-game deficit into an 8 1/2 game lead over San Francisco.

”It’s been a good run, but we’ve got to keep pushing because

nothing’s guaranteed,” Gibson said. ”You grow as a team, and

certain things help you grow. K.T. (general manager Kevin Towers)

has done a great job of fine-tuning what we thought some of our

weaknesses were. We had our advance meeting today and some of the

veteran guys spoke up about some things that we’re looking for that

are going to help us in the future.”

Saunders (11-12) allowed four hits, struck out four and walked

one. The Dodgers’ other run against the left-hander came in the

seventh on an RBI single by rookie Jerry Sands, who had three

hits.

The Dodgers loaded the bases in the ninth, when Alberto Castillo

hit pinch-hitter Tony Gwynn Jr. with a 2-2 pitch after Bryan Shaw

gave up a pair of two-out singles. But Putz retired Dee Gordon on a

grounder to get his 39th save in 43 chances.

Los Angeles, a season-worst 14 games under .500 after a July 6

loss to the Mets, has to go no worse than 9-5 the rest of the way

to finish with a winning record after going 80-82 last season. The

Dodgers have had consecutive losing seasons only twice since

leaving Brooklyn. The last time was 1986-87, when they had

identical 73-89 records. It also happened in 1967-68.

The Diamondbacks lead the season series 8-5 with five games

remaining, including a three-game set in Phoenix that concludes the

regular season.

NOTES: The Dodgers held their annual ”Heroes Night” pregame

ceremony, honoring representatives of the armed forces and local

police and fire departments. One of them was the late Andrew

Garton, a Hawthorne motorcycle officer whose cousin was St. Louis

Cardinals C Gerald Laird. Garton, 44, was killed in a traffic

accident on May 26 while escorting a funeral procession for

Manhattan Beach officer and cancer victim Mark Vasquez. … Parra

also had four RBIs on July 26, 2009, against Pittsburgh. …

Saunders’ most troublesome inning this season has been the first,

having given up 19 runs and seven homers. The same is true over his

career – 117 runs and 25 homers. … Montero was 0 for 3, ending

his 18-game hitting streak. … The Diamondbacks posted their major

league-leading 43rd comeback victory. … Any combination of

Diamondbacks wins and Dodgers losses totaling three would eliminate

Los Angeles from the NL West race. Any combination of five losses

and Atlanta Braves wins will put the Dodgers out of the wild-card

hunt.