Matt Kemp's long shots make Dodgers' shot not so long

Stephen Dunn - Getty Images

Matt Kemp hit two home runs, pulling the Dodgers ever closer in the race for the second National League wild card spot.

Matt Kemp hit a pair of home runs, including one near the top of the left field pavilion, to lead the Dodgers to a 3-0 win over the Rockies on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium. The fourth straight win for the Dodgers pulled them to within two games of the Cardinals, who lost on Saturday to the Nationals.

Kemp's home run in the fourth inning, to left field, was estimated at 461 feet, which made it the longest hit by a Dodger this season. The previous long, per ESPN Home Run Tracker, was 454 feet, also hit by Kemp, on April 25 against Atlanta.

His home run in the eighth was of the more traditional Kemp variety, a booming high fly to right field that carried into the seats. It was the second multi-home-run game of the season for Kemp and the fifth of his career. Kemp has six extra-base hits in his last four games: three doubles and three home runs.

That helped back Joe Blanton, who delivered his best start as a Dodger. Blanton struck out six and walked none, and pitched into the seventh inning without allowing a run. His Bill James game score of 64 is the best of his 10 starts as a Dodger.

The Dodgers had three first inning singles but didn't score, thanks to a 3-6-1 double play and a nifty diving catch by shortstop Josh Rutledge in short left field of a blooper by Hanley Ramirez that would have scored a run.

One of those first-inning singles was off the bat of Adrian Gonzalez, who extended his hitting streak to 11 games. The only Dodger with a longer hitting streak this season is Luis Cruz, who had a 12-game streak from July 17-29.

After Kemp's home run in the fourth inning, Ramirez singled and Shane Victorino walked to start a rally. The suddenly hot A.J. Ellis followed with a single to right field to score Ramirez for a 2-0 lead. That gave Ellis an RBI in five straight games, tying Andre Ethier (twice), Kemp, and Luis Cruz for the longest RBI streak by a Dodger this season.

The Rockies put two runners on in the fifth inning and had Tyler Chatwood bat for himself down 2-0 with two outs. Chatwood grounded into a force play to end the threat. What made the move even more perplexing was that Chatwood didn't even begin the fifth inning on the mound. Colorado was down to just one healthy bench player Saturday in Jonathan Herrera (Troy Renck has more details on the Rockies' infirmary at the Denver Post), which is amazing with expanded September roster limits.

Blanton was removed from the game after allowing a leadoff single to Chris Nelson in the seventh, but Ronald Belisario retired all three batters he faced to escape the mini-jam unscathed. Belisario, Kenley Jansen, and Brandon League combined to retire the final nine batters of the game.

Notes

  • Perhaps the only downside of the game on Saturday for the Dodgers was that Cruz left the game after the seventh inning with a headache.
  • Ramirez stole two bases on Saturday, his first multi-steal game as a Dodger and his third such game this season. Ramirez now has 20 stolen bases and 24 home runs on the season (six and 10, respectively, as a Dodger), the fifth 20-20 season of his career.
  • Blanton and the bullpen combined for 10 strikeouts and no walks, the fourth game this season the Dodgers have had at least 10 strikeouts and no walks.
  • Gonzalez doubled in the eighth inning, his 46th of the season to tie a career high set in 2007 with the Padres. Gonzalez has two hits in five of his last six games.
  • Dodgers starting pitchers have allowed 19 earned runs (22 total runs) in their last 13 games, a 2.33 ERA, and never more than three earned runs during that span.
  • Blanton was 0-for-2 at the plate on Saturday, and Dodger pitchers have two hits in their last 60 at-bats, with 26 strikeouts.
  • Before the game, Dodgers coach Manny Mota was honored for his 50 years in baseball and threw out a ceremonial first pitch.
  • Former Dodgers pitcher Bobby Castillo was also on hand, his first appearance at Dodger Stadium since suffering a stroke last season. Castillo also threw a first-pitch before the game, a strike to Fernando Valenzuela behind the plate, with several former Dodgers on hand.

Saturday's Particulars

Home Runs: Matt Kemp 2 (22)

WP - Joe Blanton (10-13): 6+ IP, 7 hits, 6 strikeouts

LP - Tyler Chatwood (5-6): 4 IP, 5 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

Sv - Brandon League (15): 1 IP, 1 strikeout

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