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DODGERS 12, MILWAUKEE 8 (10 INNINGS)

Matt Kemp comes up big

He hits a grand slam in the top of the 10th and ends the game with a Willie Mays-type catch.

July 11, 2009|DYLAN HERNANDEZ

MILWAUKEE — This is becoming kind of old, isn't it?

Another lead was blown.

Another deficit was made up.

Another extra-inning game was won.

On the night Manny Ramirez moved into a tie with Mickey Mantle for 15th place on the all-time home run list, the Dodgers erased a ninth-inning deficit with Trevor Hoffman on the mound and scored six runs in the 10th to storm to a 12-8 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.

The Dodgers improved to 9-2 in extra-inning games by taking a contest that bore some resemblance to the 13-inning triumph in San Diego on Sunday that Manager Joe Torre described as an expression of his team's indefatigable spirit.

"What can I say?" Torre said. "They just keep plugging away."

That day in San Diego, closer Jonathan Broxton blew a four-run lead in the ninth.

Friday night in Milwaukee, ace Chad Billingsley had the worst start of his All-Star season, as he was rocked for five runs, five hits and four walks in five innings, and Brent Leach gave up a go-ahead run in the eighth on a solo home run by Mat Gamel.

But the Dodgers made up for the rare failures of Billingsley and Leach with their first five-homer game in three seasons, the last shot a grand slam by Matt Kemp off Carlos Villanueva in the 10th inning that capped the Dodgers' latest late-inning surge.

"We've been there a while," Kemp said. "We know that if we're down late in games, we know we can come back with the kind of lineup we have."

Andre Ethier, James Loney and Russell Martin also homered.

"Our bats are coming alive," Kemp said.

With Torre dismissing Billingsley's performance as an aberration, the only disconcerting development of the evening was the form of Broxton, who was charged with two runs, three hits and a walk in a 28-pitch 10th inning.

Broxton nearly gave up two more runs, as Jason Kendall drove a ball deep to center with two out and men on the corners.

Back turned to home plate, Kemp ran under the ball and caught up, securing the victory by climbing two steps up the wall after the catch.

Torre said that Kemp ran into the dugout and shouted, "Willie Mays Hayes!" the name of Wesley Snipes' character in the movie "Major League."

But really, it looked more like Willie Mays in the 1954 World Series.

"I was messing around with it in batting practice today," Kemp said of the basket catch. "I guess I thought I'd use it in the game today."

Kemp got the chance to use it because of his surprise bunt single off Hoffman in the ninth that put men on the corners. Mark Loretta hit a pinch-hit single that drove in Martin to tie the score at 6-6 and push it into extra innings.

Villanueva looked as if he had no interest of facing Ramirez in the 10th inning and walked him on five pitches, the latest sign that Ramirez is returning to his regular form more rapidly than expected.

And who could blame Villanueva, who watched from the bullpen as Ramirez hit his 536th career home run in the sixth inning on a towering two-run shot over the wall in right-center.

But Casey Blake made Villanueva pay, as his triple to right-center scored Ramirez from first to put the Dodgers ahead, 7-6. Pinch-hitter Juan Pierre drew an intentional walk, which was followed up by a run-scoring single by Martin.

A walk to Orlando Hudson loaded the bases to set the stage for Kemp, who smashed the ball into the left-field stands for his 11th homer of the year.

--

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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