You can't have a better first impression than Juan Rivera's first at-bat as a Dodger.
Juan Rivera welcomed himself to the Dodgers, and Matt Kemp provided the bulk of the offense, as Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers held on to beat the Diamondbacks 6-4, the fifth straight win for the Dodgers. Rivera lined the first pitch he saw as a Dodger over the left field wall in the second inning, immediately increasing the Dodgers' left field home run production this season by 50%, giving the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. It was the first career at-bat against Joe Saunders for Rivera, as the two were teammates in Anaheim for the better part of six seasons.
Kemp came into the night in a bit of a home run drought. No, I'm not talking about his last place performance in Monday's Home Run Derby at Chase Field. Kemp had not homered in 12 games and 50 plate appearances before the All-Star break, and had just two home runs in his last 25 games (102 PA). Kemp quenched his power thirst with an absolute bomb to left field in the sixth inning, a two-run shot to put the Dodgers up 4-0. He added a two-run single one inning later.
For good measure, Kemp even threw out a runner at the plate, erasing Willie Bloomquist on a sacrifice fly attempt to end the first inning. Kemp's throw was up the line, but strong enough to give Dioner Navarro time to make a lunging tag of Bloomquist.
Heading into the seventh inning, with Kershaw nursing a 6-0 lead, this looked like just another shutout for the Dodgers' starting staff. However, a one-out error by Juan Uribe started a rally for Arizona, who pushed across a run with two outs. Then, Kershaw served up a shot to center field to Xavier Nady, a three-run home run to cut the lead to 6-4.
The Diamondbacks put a runner on in the eighth off Mike MacDougal, and put two runners on base in the ninth off Hong-Chih Kuo and Javy Guerra, but the bullpen held, striking out three in their two innings of work. Guerra got the final out of the game, a called strikeout of Brandon Allen, to preserve the win, and pick up his fifth save in as many opportunities.
- The Dodgers' five-game winning streak is the longest by the team since a nine-game streak last season, from May 9-18.
- Kemp is second in the NL with 23 home runs, one behind Lance Berkman, and is third in the NL with 71 RBI, two behind Prince Fielder and one behind Ryan Howard
- Navarro had two hits and an RBI, and has at least one hit in each of his last five starts, hitting .333/.333/.476 during that span.
- Seth Pollack of SB Nation Arizona has some postgame reaction from the D-Backs, including some interviews with Kirk Gibson, Xavier Nady, and Brandon Allen.
- Hiroki Kuroda starts Saturday as the Dodgers try to make it six in a row. Huntington Beach native and former USC Trojan Ian Kennedy starts for Arizona.
WP - Clayton Kershaw (10-4): 7 IP, 5 hits, 4 runs (0 earned), 2 walks, 8 strikeouts
LP - Joe Saunders (6-8): 6 IP, 5 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
Sv - Javy Guerra (5): 1/3 IP, 1 hit, 1 strikeout