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Matt Kemp-powered Dodgers beat Giants, 4-3

Dodgers use Matt Kemp's offense, his baserunning and San Francisco's errors to fuel their second consecutive victory to start the season.

April 01, 2011|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Dodgers third baseman Aaron Miles, left, is congratulated by right fielder Andre Ethier after scoring in the sixth inning of the Dodgers' 4-3 victory over the visiting San Francisco Giants on Friday.
Dodgers third baseman Aaron Miles, left, is congratulated by right fielder… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)

For the first two games of the season, the Dodgers' entire offense has consisted of three weapons — Matt Kemp's bat, Matt Kemp's legs and the San Francisco Giants' propensity for self-destruction.

Limited as the Dodgers' arsenal has been, it's been enough to lift the cash-strapped club to a pair of victories over the defending World Series champions, the latest a come-from-behind, 4-3 victory at Dodger Stadium on Friday night.

"He's a special player," Chad Billingsley said of Kemp. "He made a lot of things happen — on the field with his glove and on the bases."

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As was the case on opening day, Kemp looked nothing like the confused and sometimes indifferent player he was a season ago. He was two for four with a run scored and another driven in, and has reached base in six of his eight plate appearances of the infant season.

Kemp drove in the first run of the game in the third inning by hitting a ground-rule double that knocked in Chad Billingsley.

And with the Dodgers trailing 3-1, Kemp made something happen again, this time using his brains instead of his brawn.

Reaching first on a single to center in the sixth inning, Kemp bolted for second on a 1-0 pitch to Marcus Thames.

Kemp was at second base by the time Thames' grounder was scooped up by Pablo Sandoval; he was at third by the time first baseman Brandon Belt threw it back across the diamond.

"I was just trying to make something happen," Kemp said. "I saw Pablo looking at first base and I went for it It was an instinct thing. My instincts were on point today."

But there was some thinking involved. Kemp said he waited for Sandoval to let go of the ball before taking off for third.

"I didn't want him to pump-fake me and throw me out," said Kemp, who has worked extensively on baserunning with first base coach Davey Lopes.

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Kemp scored on a sacrifice fly by James Loney and returned to the dugout to watch the Giants' latest implosion.

The Giants, who made three errors on Thursday night, were about to make two more gaffes.

With two outs and Rod Barajas at first, Sandoval tried to throw out Aaron Miles at first and instead threw the ball down the right-field foul line. Suddenly, the Dodgers had runners on second and third.

Manager Don Mattingly sent Hector Gimenez into the game to pinch-hit for Billingsley, but the 28-year-old rookie from Venezuela immediately fell behind 0-2 to pitcher Jonathan Sanchez.

Gimenez managed to get his bat on the fourth pitch of the at-bat, hitting a dribbler back to Sanchez.

Literally and figuratively, Sanchez dropped the ball.

Barajas scored and the game was tied, 3-3.

Giants Manager Bruce Bochy replaced Sanchez with former Dodger Guillermo Mota, who promptly let the go-ahead run score on a sharp single by leadoff hitter Rafael Furcal.

"Matt going from first to third got us all fired up," Billingsley said. "You get the confidence going, guys feed off each other."

L.A. Times Dodgers blog

The Giants couldn't hit last year and did nothing over the off-season to remedy that.

Once the Dodgers had the lead, the game was appeared all but over.

Billingsley earned the victory, limiting the Giants to three runs and five hits over six innings.

The only runs charged to him came on a three-run home run by the Giants' hot-shot prospect Belt.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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