In a month that has seen the state in a drought, and the team in a power drought, Matt Kemp led a powerful Dodgers attack on Tuesday in a 8-4 win over the Braves in the opener of a three-game series. In their eighth attempt, the Dodgers finally have their first four-game winning streak of the season.
Kemp's home runs were two of a season-high nine extra-base hits by the Dodgers, who entered play on Tuesday with just eight home runs in 21 games in July. Kemp drove in four runs in the win.
The previous season high was seven extra-base hits by the Dodgers, accomplished twice, including April 6, Kemp's other multi-home run game this season. Kemp since the All-Star break is 14-for-36, hitting .389/.488/.657 with nine RBI in 10 games.
The last time the Dodgers had nine extra-base hits in a game at Dodger Stadium was The 4+1 Game on Sept. 18, 2006 against San Diego.
The two teams exchanged two-run home runs to right field in the second and third innings. Kemp hit a ball that bounced off the top of the wall and into the right field pavilion just minutes after the announcement that Vin Scully would return to broadcast games in 2015. The home run for Kemp snapped a string of 25 games and 103 plate appearances since his last home run, hit on June 25.
He didn't wait nearly as long for his next one.
After Kemp's home run gave the Dodgers a brief 2-1 lead, Freddie Freeman followed with a two-run shot in the third that put Atlanta back on top 3-2.
A single by Chris Johnson and a double by Andrelton Simmons widened the Braves' lead to 4-2 and chased Beckett just one out into the fifth inning. Beckett allowed four runs and 13 runners to reach base in his 4⅓ innings and needed 105 pitches to do so.
A rally in the fifth got Beckett off the hook. Puig followed a single and double in his first two at-bats with a one-out triple, then scored on a double by Adrian Gonzalez. One out later, Carl Crawford singled to score Gonzalez and tie the game at 4-4.
Puig came to bat in the seventh inning needing a home run for a natural cycle, but settled for an infield single on a hard ground ball just behind third base. It was the second four-hit game in four days and third of the season for Puig, who scored the go-ahead run three batters later on a groundout by Carl Crawford.
Kemp followed with a bomb to center field giving the Dodgers a 7-4 lead. It was Kemp's second multi-home run game of the season and seventh of his career, two of three hits on the night.
Gonzalez, who had three hits of his own, hit his second double of the night to drive in Dee Gordon for an insurance run in the eighth inning. Juan Uribe also doubled twice.
The Braves put a pair of runners on with two outs in the eighth inning against J.P. Howell, bringing the tying run to the plate in Justin Upton. But Kenley Jansen got Upton to fly out to right field, then set recorded three outs in the ninth to close out the win.
It was the second time this season Jansen has pitched longer than one inning to get a save, and the sixth time in his career. All six instances were four-out saves.
Coupled with the Giants' loss to Pittsburgh up north in San Francisco, the Dodgers lead the National League West by three games.
Zack Greinke gets the call in the middle game of the series on Wednesday night for the Dodgers, while left-hander Alex Wood starts for Atlanta.
Home runs: Matt Kemp 2 (10); Freddie Freeman (15)
WP - Brandon League (2-2): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 walk
LP - Anthony Varvaro (3-3): 1 IP, 4 hits, 3 runs, 1 strikeout
Sv - Kenley Jansen (31): 1⅓ IP, 1 hit, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts