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Kemp inspires Dodgers with big night

The Sports Xchange
Kemp inspires Dodgers with big night · Roster Report · Notes, Quotes

The Dodgers went to their fourth-string closer on Tuesday night. Simply getting that opportunity was a good thing -- and it was thanks to Matt Kemp.

Kemp hit a two-run home run in the first inning, equaling the Dodgers' offense over the previous 28 innings. Kemp made two long running catches on the warning track to take away doubles, and then Jerry Sands' double in the eighth provided some insurance in the Dodgers' 3-0 win over the Brewers.

"It definitely felt good," Kemp said. "We haven't been doing a good job offensively. Our pitchers are doing a heck of a job keeping us in games. We need to do a better job of scoring runs."

Kemp got off to a scintillating start this season, posting a slash line of .362/.427/.610 in April with six home runs and 19 RBI. He wasn't expected to maintain that pace, of course, and he came into Tuesday's game with a slash line of .224/.328/.306 in May, including just two extra-base hits.

Don Mattingly, after being the hitting coach the last 2 1/2 years, doesn't interfere with new hitting coach Jeff Pentland too much. Pentland was like an assistant hitting coach for Mattingly, and they're on the same page with hitting philosophies.

But while Mattingly might not be in the cage anymore, he talked with Kemp and Andre Ethier before Tuesday's game. His message was a reminder that, even though the offense is struggling, don't feel as if you have to do it all every night.

"Matt and Andre, we've asked a lot of them this year," Mattingly said. "They have to keep doing their thing, not do too much. We need to get production from other areas. Those guys can't go out of their game. They have to stay with what they do. That's all we're asking."

A visit from Kemp's agent, former major-leaguer Dave Stewart, put a smile on Kemp's face in batting practice. Kemp considers Stewart a family member, and he put on a show for him in the game. He robbed Casey McGehee of a double, saving two runs, with a long running catch in right-center to end the first inning. Then he hauled in Prince Fielder's towering drive to center in the sixth, saving another run.

Kemp's home run went to right field, a towering drive that was extra impressive because it was a cool night with lots of moisture in the air, making it tough for the ball to travel.

"Here tonight, you had to crush that thing for it to go out," Mattingly said. "For him to go (opposite field) like that ... there's things he does that not a lot of guys can do."

Matt Guerrier ended up getting the save. Vicente Padilla, third on the closer depth chart, felt some stiffness in his right forearm and wasn't available. He hasn't pitched since Friday, and while Mattingly said he hoped Padilla would be available Wednesday, anytime a player has an injury to the same area that recently underwent surgery, it's not a good thing. More will be known about Padilla on Wednesday.

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