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Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier pump up Dodgers' 3-1 win

Matt Kemp hits a home run and Andre Ethier provides a two-out RBI as the Dodgers beat Astros to improve their record to 11-3.

April 20, 2012|By Jim Peltz

HOUSTON — Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier led the offense, third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. made two dazzling plays and the Dodgers' starting pitcher was effective enough if not outstanding.

Sound familiar?

In a repeat of their win over the Milwaukee Brewers a day earlier, the Dodgers followed nearly the same blueprint again Friday to defeat the Houston Astros, 3-1, in the opener of their three-game series at Minute Maid Park.

That lifted the Dodgers' record to 11-3 on Manager Don Mattingly's 51st birthday, their best start since going 12-2 through the first 14 games in 2005.

In extending his remarkable start this season, Kemp belted a two-run home run into the right-field stands off Houston starter J.A. Happ in the first inning after Justin Sellers led off with a single.

Kemp now has eight homers and 20 runs batted in, both tops in the big leagues, along with a nine-game hitting streak. Overall he was three for three with a walk Friday.

But Kemp also sounded a cautionary note, as the Dodgers failed to score after the third inning. "We got to continue to score runs and try to find ways to add insurance," he said.

In the meantime, Kemp is "a tough act to follow," Ethier said. "He hits a home run every other time and pitchers aren't too happy afterward when I step in the box."

Ethier knocked in his 19th RBI of the season in the third inning with a two-out single that drove in Mark Ellis.

That proved enough support for Dodgers pitcher Ted Lilly (2-0), who was hot and cold but still limited the Astros to the one run on four hits in six innings of work. He also walked six batters while striking out five.

"I feel like the results were a lot better than I threw the ball," Lilly said. "Fortunately I was able to get out of some jams and there were some really nice defensive plays made behind me."

The first of the highlight-reel plays by Hairston, the veteran playing for injured Juan Uribe, came in the third inning when Jose Altuve hit a sharp grounder that went off Hairston's glove into foul ground.

As Altuve rounded first base and tried to reach second, Hairston ran the ball down, turned and fired to Ellis, the second baseman, for the out.

In the fifth inning, with the bases full of Astros and two out, Jed Lowrie hit sharp grounder down the third base line. Hairston made a diving stab of the ball, scampered on his knees to the bag and tagged the base with his right arm to get a force on J.D. Martinez.

"It took a funny kick and I almost overran it," Hairston said. "I just tried to get to third base as fast as I could. I barely got him."

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