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Kemp, Ethier give Lowe support

June 03, 2008|Kevin Baxter | Times Staff Writer

The Dodgers and Colorado Rockies stumbled into Dodger Stadium on Monday night, each having lost eight of their last 10 games, with the Dodgers struggling offensively and the Rockies struggling, well, in every way.

And since there's no tying in baseball, it was obvious that one of the two skids was going to end.

"Somebody," Dodgers Manager Joe Torre predicted Monday afternoon, "has got to win."

But if that much was easy to foresee, the way the Dodgers went about their 8-2 victory was not.

Who would have guessed, for instance, that the National League's worst home-run-hitting team would equal a season high by hitting three? Or that Matt Kemp, with three extra-base hits in his last seven games, would match that in the first seven innings Monday?

Or that the Dodgers, despite going 13-15 in May, would actually gain two games on first-place Arizona in the NL West standings?

"We certainly know we're capable," Torre said. "We just need to get our confidence. And with confidence, I think we'll be a better club. Hopefully, the worm has turned."

It certainly did for Derek Lowe, the beneficiary of all that offensive support. The right-hander had given up only two runs in his last 14 innings, yet had only a loss to show for it.

But after giving up a first-inning run on three consecutive two-out singles, he gave up only two more hits, both in the fourth inning, and allowed only other two runners to reach scoring position. Twice he retired seven batters in a row and he set the side down in order in four of his eight innings to win for the first time in eight starts.

"It's certainly been a long time," said Lowe (3-5), who hadn't won since April 23. "Eight runs will certainly give you a better chance."

Kemp was in the middle of most of the offense, putting together his second three-hit game in as many nights while matching a career best with three runs scored. James Loney had two hits, and Andre Ethier and Jeff Kent each homered.

"We needed to come home . . . get the bats going. Get in the groove," said Kemp who, like the rest of the Dodgers, didn't get back to Los Angeles until nearly 5 a.m. Monday, less than 12 hours before batting practice began. "It just relaxed us coming in later, not trying to do too much."

But the Dodgers did more than just pound the ball since they also created a couple of runs, with Lowe knocking in one with a squeeze bunt in the second inning and another coming home when Blake DeWitt stayed in a rundown long enough for Loney to score in the seventh.

"Just a good feel in the clubhouse," Kemp said. "I knew we were going to do good today."

Call that a prediction that came true.


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