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The Race To 20

For Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp to get to 20 home runs, they might need sturdier bats.
For Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp to get to 20 home runs, they might need sturdier bats.

Matt Kemp's home run in the ninth inning in the second game of the doubleheader on Wednesday night not only won the game for the Dodgers, but it pulled Kemp even with Andre Ethier for the team lead in home runs, with 19.

Until Ethier homered on Sunday against the Cardinals, Kemp had held or shared the Dodgers team lead in home runs for every day of this season, even during the 51 games Kemp missed before the All-Star break with a pair of left hamstring strains.

But what if neither Kemp nor Ethier hit another home run this season? Aside from likely spelling doom for the Dodgers' playoff chances, it would mean the Dodgers would be without a hitter with 20 home runs, something that hasn't happened in a non-strike season in 40 years.

The 1972 Dodgers also got 19 home runs each out of their center fielder and right fielder, as both Willie Davis and Frank Robinson led the team. Davis played in 149 games that year, with Robinson playing 103. This year if both Ethier and Kemp play the remaining 13 regular season games they will have a similar 150 and 106 games played, respectively.

The Dodgers have had some close calls, as the team leaders hit exactly 20 home runs in 2006 (Nomar Garciaparra, J.D. Drew), 2007 (Jeff Kent) and 2008 (Ethier). Rookie first baseman Eric Karros led the 99-loss team in 1992 with 20 home runs, and Eddie Murray hit 20 to lead the 1989 squad.

Mike Piazza (24) and Tim Wallach (23) each hit over 20 home runs in the strike-shortened 1994 campaign, while Ron Cey hit 13 to lead the team in the strike-shortened 1981 season.

Thursday's Matchup

The Dodgers are not only trying to win today to capture their first series win since Aug. 24-26. They are also trying to win their sixth consecutive series in the Eastern time zone this season. The Dodgers are 15-4 in the Eastern time zone this season. Chris Capuano gets the call against the Nationals.

Game Time: 4:05 p.m.

TV: Prime Ticket, MLB Network

MLB Gameday