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Matt Kemp gives the Dodgers a nice four-runner

He scores all of the Dodgers' runs and hits the tie-breaking homer as L.A. salvages a series split with the Astros.

July 20, 2009|JIM PELTZ

A cursory look at the box score would indicate that Matt Kemp was a one-man wrecking crew Sunday, scoring all four runs in the Dodgers' 4-3 win over the Houston Astros.

That included Kemp's solo home run in the eighth inning that provided the go-ahead score.

But a closer look revealed that Kemp twice reached home thanks to clutch hits by backup catcher Brad Ausmus.

"We were the dynamic duo out there today," Kemp said.

And an even closer examination would show that there was, in fact, a third player assisting the Dodgers: Astros reliever Alberto Arias.

Arias' two errors in the seventh inning enabled the Dodgers to tie the score -- and set up Kemp's game winner -- in front of 40,340 on a muggy day in the 90s when Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda didn't have his best stuff.

Kuroda "battled a little bit, I've certainly seen him sharper," said Ausmus, who caught for a resting Russell Martin. "But the most important thing is he kept us in the game."

Kemp slammed a full-count pitch from Astros reliever LaTroy Hawkins into the left-field pavilion, and Dodgers reliever Ramon Troncoso, who pitched the eighth inning, got the victory.

Closer Jonathan Broxton sealed the win with a scoreless ninth inning for his 22nd save.

The win gave the Dodgers a split of their four-game series with Houston and enabled the Dodgers to maintain their lead in the National League West.

The San Francisco Giants and Colorado Rockies, who both won, remain 7 1/2 and eight games behind, respectively.

With the Dodgers trailing 3-2 in the seventh inning, Kemp singled and moved to second on Ausmus' sacrifice bunt.

Blake DeWitt then grounded to first baseman Chris Coste, who lobbed the ball to Arias covering first. But Arias dropped it. DeWitt was safe and Kemp moved to third base.

Rafael Furcal then hit a slow roller to Arias who tried to throw out Kemp at home. But the 25-year-old Arias dropped the ball again and Kemp crossed the plate with the Dodgers' third run.

Kemp and Ausmus also had teamed up against Astros starter Russ Ortiz in the fifth inning, with Kemp hitting a leadoff single and scoring on Ausmus' double.

"Matty came up huge," Ausmus said. "He's probably been our most consistent hitter all year."

That narrowed the Astros' lead to 3-2 and, with Kuroda having thrown 92 pitches through five innings, Dodgers Manager Joe Torre lifted him for a pinch-hitter.

It was the third consecutive outing in which Kuroda has been less than impressive.

He gave up three runs in 1 1/3 innings a week ago against the Milwaukee Brewers when he came out of the bullpen for the first time in his career. And in his previous start July 8, he gave up four runs in 4 1/3 innings in a 5-4 loss to the New York Mets.

Kuroda, 34, escaped damage in the first two innings but, in the third, Michael Bourn doubled and later scored on Carlos Lee's single. Geoff Blum then hit a two-run home run.

In the Dodgers' half of the third inning, Kemp walked, stole second base and scored on Ausmus' double.

The Dodgers were concerned with a potential injury to second baseman Orlando Hudson.

As he ran out a ground ball in the fifth inning, Hudson hurt his left wrist -- the one he had surgically repaired last year -- as he collided with Ortiz, who was covering first. Hudson left the game and was listed day to day.





When: 7.

Where: Dodger Stadium.

On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio 790, 930.

Pitchers: Jason Schmidt vs. Micah Owings; Tuesday, 7 p.m. -- Homer Bailey (1-1, 6.43) vs. Randy Wolf (4-4, 3.51). Wednesday 7 p.m. -- Bronson Arroyo (10-8, 5.07) vs. Chad Billingsley (9-5, 3.76).

Update: Schmidt makes his first big-league start in more than two years as the 36-year-old right hander, who had shoulder surgery in 2007, has pitched in only six games for the Dodgers since signing a $47-million contract after the 2006 season. Owings is 1-1 lifetime in three starts against the Dodgers with a 3.50 earned-run average.

-- Jim Peltz

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