"You go through stretches where things aren't working your way," Kemp said. "I have hit that stretch. I feel like the earlier the better. Now I can do some things to help this team start to win."
He did that in the Padres' 4-0 victory over the Angels in 10 innings on Tuesday, driving in three runs with a double off Angels' reliever Joe Smith to break a scoreless tie.
Kemp, who had three RBIs in his previous 15 games combined, got three with one swing, as he jumped on a sinker in from Smith, lining it down the left field line. The visiting dugout erupted. Kemp pumped his fists in excitement.
"We needed that. I felt like we needed to win that game right there. I was just excited I could get that hit for the team and get us those runs," Kemp said.
The Padres (22-25) needed this, as their offense has largely scuffled this month after losing two of their top hitters -- Yonder Alonso and Wil Myers -- to the disabled list.
And Kemp, after an April where he hit .326 with 16 RBIs, has struggled in May. He went into this game hitting .251 with six RBIs for the entire month.
"Baseball is a grind; you go through your ups and your downs. You've got to continue to come to the ballpark with a good attitude and try to work through it, grind through it," Kemp said. "I think that's what we're all doing as a team."
"I don't think everybody performed the way they've wanted to. But when we do, and I know we will at some point this year, our team will be tough to beat."
To be that team, the Padres will needed more production from Kemp, who was moved from the No. 3 spot in the order to No. 4 before the game, swapping spots with Justin Upton.
"It doesn't really matter where he and I hit. He's hit three before, and I've hit four before," he said. "It doesn't matter. Those are two spots that [we] need production out of for the team to be successful."
That gave Upton, the team's leader in home runs (12) and RBIs (35) a chance. Smith, who was scuffling, got Upton on three pitches, including a sweeping slider for a strikeout.
That brought up Kemp, who had singled and struck out earlier in the game. When Smith tried to run a fastball inside, Kemp jumped on the pitch.
"It was a big spot. [I'm] real happy for Matt," said Padres manager Bud Black. "Obviously, he's been going through some trials and tribulations, but he's never wavered. He never backs off any challenge or any at-bat. That was big for him, big for the team. Hopefully that can carry over.
"We need him to be Matt Kemp."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.