Kemp homers twice as Dodgers gain on Cards

Kemp homers twice as Dodgers gain on Cards

Kemp homers twice as Dodgers gain on Cards
LOS ANGELES -- With two outs in the top of the sixth inning on Saturday night, the 40,724 fans at Dodger Stadium erupted.

Not because of what was going on right in front of them, but rather because of what was unfolding more than 1,800 miles away in St. Louis.

At that moment, it was shown on the scoreboard that the Cardinals had just given up two runs to the Nationals in the 10th inning.

"You can't really miss it," manager Don Mattingly said. "If we don't win, it doesn't really matter."

From there, Los Angeles did its part and eventually pulled out a 3-0 victory over the Rockies behind a pair of Matt Kemp solo homers.

Thanks to St. Louis' 6-4 loss, all of a sudden there is a glimmer of hope for the Dodgers with four games remaining, as they now sit two games back of the final National League Wild Card spot.

"The one thing we can do is win," Mattingly said. "That really forces the team that you chase to win, so they don't get any gifts. They've got to go earn something and that is what we are doing right now."

After Sunday, both the Dodgers and Cardinals host rivals atop their respective divisions, with the Giants coming to Los Angeles for three games and the Reds traveling to St. Louis to close out the regular season.

The Cardinals showed last year that anything is possible in late September, and the Dodgers proved yet again they don't plan on simply rolling over, cranking out 10 hits for their fourth straight win.

The Dodgers 3-4-5 combination of Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez combined to go 8-for-12.

"That's the team I know," Kemp said. "That's the team we should have been all year, but we can't control the past. Baseball is unpredictable. You never know what is going to happen or what is happening in the moment. Right now, we have to take it for what it is and find a way to sneak into those playoffs."

Third baseman Luis Cruz left in the eighth inning with a headache, but he doesn't expect to miss Sunday's game.

Kemp got the Dodgers on the board in the fourth with a homer that traveled an estimated 461 feet into the left-field stands. He added an insurance run in the eighth with his 22nd homer of the year.

After clubbing 12 homers in April, Kemp managed only six from the start of May until 10 days ago. He looks to have regained his stroke, with four homers in the past 10 games.

"It feels good to hit balls that hard," said Kemp, who admitted to being as banged up as one might expect at this point in the season. "Hopefully I can do it the next four or five days."

Shortly after Kemp's first homer, the Dodgers plated another run when A.J. Ellis singled home Hanley Ramirez, who had singled and stole second. The 2-0 lead was all starter Joe Blanton and the bullpen would need.

For Colorado manager Jim Tracy, the reason why the Dodgers won was pretty simple.

"Their big man hit a couple of solo homers," Tracy said. "They scored three. We didn't get any."

For the second-straight night, the Dodgers pitching staff shut down the Rockies.

Blanton lasted into the seventh inning, allowing seven hits, and he benefited from a pair of double plays and six strikeouts to keep Colorado off the board.

The Dodgers made a play for Blanton in early August because of his experience pitching in big games like Saturday.

"You hope when you are traded that you are put in position to pitch in the playoffs, or do all you can to get in the playoffs," Blanton said.

Following Blanton, Ronald Belisario, Kenley Jansen and Brandon League closed out the game for the Dodgers without allowing a hit.

League earned his sixth save as a Dodger and has now thrown scoreless relief in 18 of his last 19 outings. He has given up just one run in 20 1/3 innings since Aug. 21.

"[Clayton Kershaw] last night was tremendous, but Joe Blanton was really good tonight," Mattingly said. "Our bullpen was lights out again. It was a good night."

Alex Angert is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.