Dodgers offense backs strong Paul Maholm to snap losing streak

Harry How

LOS ANGELES -- Paul Maholm had his best start of the year and Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp led a resurgent Dodgers offense in a 6-3 win over the Rockies on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium.

After averaging just three runs per game in their last 11 contests, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said before the game he was confident the club would hit.

"Confidence is so important amongst the club. You don't talk about it, but you have to believe it in there. It's got to be a part of your fabric," Mattingly said. "We may be down but we're coming out of this, and someone's going to pay."

That someone was Juan Nicasio, who was chased in the fifth. On the night the Dodgers had 12 hits, including six for extra bases.

The Dodgers dabbled early, with doubles by Hanley Ramirez in the first inning and Kemp in the second, though neither scored. That all changed in the third inning.

Dee Gordon tripled to right center to open the frame, his second of the season. After Yasiel Puig walked, Gordon scored on a groundout to shortstop by Hanley Ramirez, on which Puig successfully made it from first to third. A sacrifice fly by Gonzalez gave the Dodgers a 2-1 lead.

Kemp then hit a ball that appeared to be caught over the wall by right fielder Brandon Barnes. But after a brief delay and confirmation that the ball wasn't in Barnes' glove, Kemp continued his fourth home run trot of the season. Kemp has more doubles (six) and as many home runs as singles (four) this season.

In the seventh Kemp hit a would-be pop fly single to right field but Gonzalez got caught up between first and second and was forced out at second base, costing Kemp another hit.

Puig added an RBI single in the fourth inning and an RBI double in the eighth, continuing his improvement with runners in scoring position this season. In those situations, Puig is 10-for-24 with two home runs, two doubles, a triple and four walks, hitting .417/.517/.833.

The double was a ground-rule shot that bounced over the center field fence with Carl Crawford on second and Gordon on first, robbing Dodger Stadium of a track meet as Puig and Gordon were forced to hold up at second and third.

Gonzalez added a solo shot in the fifth inning, his third straight game with a home run, the 10th time in his career he has had a streak of at least three games with a home run. Gonzalez also had a four-game streak earlier, making April 2014 the first month of his career with at least two streaks of three or more games. He came close in 2009, with a five-game streak from May 20-25 and four-game streak from May 30-June 2.

The home run was the 1,500th career hit for Gonzalez, who later singled.

Maholm allowed single runs in the third and fifth, including one thanks to a pop fly double for Wilin Rosario that Kemp lost in the lights. Maholm allowed just six hits and a walk and struck out three in his seven innings.

Chris Withrow relieved Maholm and did things the hard way. With a 5-2 lead he walked the bases loaded, putting the tying runs on base, but struck out Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki to end the inning.

Staked to a four-run lead, Brian WIlson walked the first two hitters he faced in the ninth and was immediately pulled. Kenley Jansen got the final three outs for his ninth save.

Notes

Maholm coupled with Josh Beckett's eight-inning performance on Friday gives the Dodgers their first back-to-back starts of seven or more innings this season.

Kemp stole third base in the second inning, his third stolen base of the season. The Dodgers have stolen third base four times this season (Kemp and Dee Gordon are each 2-for-2 in stealing third), tied with the Athletics for the most in baseball.

Asked if Kemp was aggressive as he'd like to be with his surgically-repaired right ankle, he joked, "Shoot, I have to get on base to steal bases."

The home run by Gonzalez was his third hit to left field this season. In 2013, three of his 22 home runs were hit to left center field, but none were hit to left.

Gonzalez is one of 28 active players with 1,500 career hits.

Andre Ethier was 2-for-3 with a walk on the night, including two singles in three at-bats against Nicasio. In his career, Ethier is 10-for-17 (.588) with a home run, a double and four walks against the right-hander.

Maholm picked off Barnes at first base in the third inning, though Barnes was initially called safe by first base umpire Stu Scheurwater. Mattingly challenged the call, and after instant replay the call was overturned, the Dodgers' first successful replay challenge in three attempts this season.

Mattingly lost a challenge in the eighth, arguing that Gordon touched home plate before Puig was thrown out at third base for the final out of the inning, so the Dodgers are now 1-for-4 in challenges this year.

Chris Martin, a 27-year-old former warehouse worker, made his major league debut on Saturday. One day after his call-up, the right-hander pitched a scoreless seventh inning, allowing a hit and a walk.

Saturday particulars

Home runs: Matt Kemp (4), Adrian Gonzalez (8)

WP - Paul Maholm (1-2): 7 IP, 6 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

LP - Juan Nicasio (2-1): 4⅓ IP, 8 hits, 5 runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

Sv - Kenley Jansen (9): 1 IP, 1 hit, 2 strikeouts

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