YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Matt Kemp keeps going long in another Dodgers win

Center fielder hits his ninth home run of the young season, Andre Ethier drives in two more runs and Clayton Kershaw gets his first victory while lowering his ERA to 1.61.

April 21, 2012|By Jim Peltz

HOUSTON — Matt Kemp is slugging his way to parts unknown.

The center fielder ripped another home run, this time a two-run shot, Saturday night to lead the Dodgers to a 5-1 win over the Houston Astros and extend his astonishing season start.

Kemp has nine home runs and 22 runs batted in, both highest in the big leagues, and that's the most home runs hit in the first 15 games in Dodgers history.

He also has hit seven homers in the last eight games, has a 10-game hitting streak and his batting average is .474.

"I'm just trying to go up there and hit the ball hard," Kemp said. "If it goes out of the park, it goes out."

And for good measure, Kemp made a diving, backhanded catch of a line drive hit by Jose Altuve in the first inning at Minute Maid Park.

As a result, Kemp is the odds-on favorite to win the National League player of the week award for the fourth consecutive week, including the final week of last season. He holds the record for winning the award three consecutive weeks.

Andre Ethier, who keeps chasing his teammate in run production, singled home two runs night and has 21 runs batted in. And James Loney hit a home run in the second inning, his first of the season.

"It's a cool thing to be a part of," Ethier said.

Kemp again gave credit to Ethier, who bats after Kemp in the lineup.

"It helps when you have a great hitter behind you," Kemp said. "If you walk me, he's going to make you pay. Pick your poison."

Clayton Kershaw, meanwhile, threw seven scoreless innings en route to his first win of the season.

Kershaw, last year's NL Cy Young Award winner, has won his last nine consecutive decisions going back to last season.

The left-hander scattered three hits and struck out nine batters even though he said he wasn't overly sharp.

"I struggled with my fastball tonight. I didn't exactly know where it was going all the time," Kershaw said.

"When you get an early lead like that, you just try and hold on to it and put up zeroes."

And the Dodgers' win, their third consecutive victory, improved the club's record to an NL-best 12-3, the team's best start since 2005.

Kemp's home run, a shot to left-center field estimated at 423 feet, came in the sixth inning when he hit a slider thrown by starter Kyle Weiland, who had struck Kemp out in his two previous plate appearances.

The home run also drove in Dee Gordon, who bunted for a single and moved to third base when Weiland threw the ball away on a pickoff move.

All of Kemp's home runs this season had been to center field or right field.

"It was pretty awesome to finally pull one," Kemp said.

Los Angeles Times Articles