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Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez rekindle Dodgers fire

Kemp and Ramirez combined to reach base eight times in nine plate appearances on Tuesday night..

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

PHOENIX -- Tuesday night provided a glimpse of how potent the Dodgers can be in the postseason, something the team is now just one win away from securing. Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez returned to the Dodgers' lineup and led them to a 9-3 win over the Diamondbacks and the clubhouse was full of smiles after the game.

Or maybe they were sighs of relief.

"I miss baseball, man. I haven't played in a while so it felt good to be in front of the crowd," Kemp said after the game. "It's a good feeling."

Kemp was 4-for-4, with two doubles and two singles. It was his first start since July 21, when he was 3-for-4 with a double and a home run in Washington before hurting his ankle.

"Matt's Matt. The last two games he's played he's been ridiculous," manager Don Mattingly said after the game. "The biggest thing is that he's a lot more athletic looking. That's what you see when he's in more like a power stance, with not a whole lot of movement."

The Dodgers jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning on Patrick Corbin and by the third inning pushed the lead to 6-0 to knock Corbin out of the game. Zack Greinke was on the mound for the Dodgers and the recipient of that bounty of runs.

"I've never seen him swing the bat like he is right now," Greinke said of Kemp. "I haven't played with him a lot here, and only faced him a couple of times. People talk about how good of a hitter he is but he didn't have much of an opportunity because of injuries. It's pretty exciting."

Ramirez was a key catalyst for the offense as well with a single, three walks and three runs scored.

"Hanley's timing is ridiculous," Mattingly said. "He hasn't played in like [five] days and he's right on it."

Ramirez, like Kemp, has had more than his share of injuries this season. But whenever Ramirez has been on the field in 2013 he has been the Dodgers' best hitter. After Tuesday Ramirez is hitting .343/.397/.633 with 18 home runs in 80 games. How has he been able to stay so locked in at the plate all year?

"I don't try to think about it. I try to do the same thing with every pitch," Ramirez said.

Both Kemp and Ramirez were removed early with a big lead. Neither was hurt, and both players said their felt fine after the game. Ramirez knocked on wood as he did so, because he knows.

With Kemp, Ramirez and Yasiel Puig in the same lineup, the Dodgers are 8-2 this season and have scored 68 runs in 10 games. The goal is to make sure the Dodgers have all of their key players healthy once the playoffs start on Oct. 3.

That's why Adrian Gonzalez was removed with a slight cramp in his leg. It was something minor and given the game situation, with the Dodgers up six runs it was a good time for some extra rest. Gonzalez said it was the type of injury that he normally wouldn't even mention to Mattingly.

"Just because of the timing of the season, you're at a point where you want to finish it and lock something up, and also get guys ready," Mattingly said.

Gonzalez said he will play on Wednesday. He will likely be joined by Ramirez and Kemp, though Mattingly wouldn't totally commit after the game.

"We'll see where they are at," Mattingly said.

On Tuesday night, the Dodgers are at a pretty good place.

Up next

The Dodgers have a chance to clinch the National League West on Wednesday night, with Stephen Fife taking the mound in a spot start filling in for Clayton Kershaw, who was pushed back to Saturday. Brandon McCarthy starts for the Diamondbacks.