Dodgers don't need stars to finish sweep

Dodgers don't need stars to finish sweep

Dodgers don't need stars to finish sweep
LOS ANGELES -- With the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth, the Dodgers trailing by two and the No. 3 spot in the order due up, it seemed like the perfect spot for All-Star center fielder Matt Kemp.

But Kemp, who is among the league leaders in virtually every offensive category, had been removed earlier in the game when he irritated his left hamstring strain and is now slated to undergo an MRI on Monday morning to determine his status.

That meant it was Bobby Abreu stepping to the plate in the game's pivotal moment, and -- in Kemp-like fashion -- Abreu cashed in. He roped an opposite-field double that plated three Dodgers and gave them a lead they would never relinquish in their 11-5 victory to complete a sweep of reeling Colorado.

After the game, Kemp was adamant that the injury won't have him disabled list-bound, but he acknowledged the best thing moving forward may be to rest his hamstring, despite his streak of 399 consecutive games played, the longest active streak in baseball.

"I'm definitely not going on the DL, that's not going to happen," Kemp said. "The team needs me. I don't think this is a 15-day thing. I think this is maybe one, two, three days. It's not something that I need to go on the DL for."

Both Kemp and manager Don Mattingly made it sound like a lock that Kemp won't be in the lineup on Monday, but Mattingly didn't seem as confident that a DL stint would be avoidable.

Kemp's removal came following a third-inning grounder on which he appeared to approach first base gingerly. He has been nursing a left hamstring strain for about a week but was none too pleased with news he wouldn't be finishing the game, slamming his glove to the dugout floor.

"I wasn't mad at Donnie," said Kemp, who has scuffled a bit since first sustaining the injury. "It isn't his fault my hamstring hurts. I'm just frustrated. I kind of haven't been able to play how I want to play. I've been a little bit scared because I didn't know how my hamstring would hold up. I think I just need to let it heal for a little bit. I don't know how much time that's going to take."

For one day, at least, the Dodgers got by without their biggest bat. Catcher A.J. Ellis drove in three more runs later in the fifth with a home run, his third of the season.

"You can survive with missing your top guys temporarily," Mattingly said later. "You just can't do it long term."

On the mound, Dodgers starter Ted Lilly couldn't have responded any better to a horrific start to the game. Before he recorded an out, he trailed, 2-0, and by the time the first inning was over, he trailed, 3-0.

But after allowing four straight hits to start the game, Lilly (5-0) found a groove and finished his 6 1/3 innings having allowed just six hits and five runs (four earned).

"I'm pretty darn confident that we're going to come back and score some runs," Lilly said. "So you figure every run you save counts."

The win was Lilly's eighth in a row dating to last season, a new career high for the veteran left-hander. That's not a number he's too concerned with, though, noting he's simply focused on the next one.

After Sunday's win, Lilly heaped praise on his red-hot battery mate.

"He's great," Lilly said of Ellis. "He really has a good idea. He makes adjustments well, he understands what guys are trying to do up there and he takes into account what I'm trying to do and what's working for me, so he's making our whole team a lot better on both sides of the ball."

Mattingly even did some All-Star politicking on his catcher's behalf.

"If he keeps putting up numbers, he'll get his share of attention," Mattingly said. "We're playing well and A.J. is a big part of that. I'm sure he's not worried about [the All-Star Game]."

The Dodgers improved to 23-11 with the win, remaining six games up on the second-place Giants in the National League West. They're already 9 1/2 ahead of the Rockies, who can't seem to find pitching. Starter Alex White (0-2) allowed six runs in his 4 1/3 innings, coming unglued by three walks.

"It's a hard time that every team goes through," Rockies right fielder Michael Cuddyer said. "The Dodgers will at some point."

Mattingly and right fielder Andre Ethier were ejected in the six-run fifth after Ethier disagreed with home-plate ump Mark Carlson on a called third strike.

No matter, Ellis came to the plate two batters later, clearing the bases and giving the Dodgers a sweep of their division rivals.

AJ Cassavell is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.