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MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Matt Kemp's two-run home run in the 12th inning lifts Dodgers, 5-3

Center fielder sends a pitch by Jake Diekman over the right-field wall to complete rally by the Dodgers, who win for only the seventh time in their last 26 games.

July 18, 2012|By Dylan Hernandez

Matt Kemp was tired. He was tired of losing and tired of not being able to do anything about it.

"I had to do something, man," Kemp said.

Wednesday, he did.

With Mark Ellis standing on first base in the 12th inning, Kemp deposited a pitch by Jake Diekman into Dodger Stadium's right-field pavilion, lifting the Dodgers to a 5-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

For only the seventh time in their last 26 games, the Dodgers won. Their losing streak was over at four games.

What remained of a modest early-afternoon crowd roared as Kemp rounded third base, removed his helmet and tossed it toward the circle of teammates who were waiting for him at the plate.

"I think we were all getting a little frustrated and tired," Kemp said.

The home run was the 13th for Kemp, who was activated from the disabled list only five games earlier. His last home run had come April 28.

The victory was a testament to the Dodgers' resilience. They were held to two hits over the first eight innings by Cliff Lee. They trailed, 3-1, in the 10th inning but scored twice against $50-million closer Jonathan Papelbon. Kemp barely beat an off-balance throw by shortstop Jimmy Rollins for an infield hit to drive in Bobby Abreu and tie the score, 3-3.

Though the win was emotional, the Dodgers' enthusiasm was tempered in its aftermath. Music played loudly in the clubhouse, but most of the players dressed quietly. Smiles in the clubhouse were faint.

Experience tells the Dodgers that Kemp's home run might turn them around. Or that it might not.

Particularly with their schedule.

After a day off, the Dodgers will start a three-game series against the New York Mets at Citi Field on Friday. That will be followed by visits to the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals for four games and the National League West-leading San Francisco Giants for three.

"You don't know," Manager Don Mattingly said. "You never know when anything starts. You never know if this is the day that gets us rolling the ball in the other direction."

If anything, the victory offered the Dodgers a break from the constant losing, but barely.

The Dodgers were three outs away from another heartbreak.

With the score tied, 1-1, Mattingly called on Javy Guerra to pitch the 10th inning. Guerra had spent the previous four days in Mexico to be with his father, who underwent a heart operation Tuesday.

Guerra walked Rollins, who moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Shane Victorino. With first base open, Guerra intentionally walked Chase Utley, only to unintentionally walk Carlos Ruiz. A single by Hunter Pence drove in two runs and the Dodgers were down, 3-1.

But shortstop Luis Cruz led off the bottom of the inning against Papelbon with a double and scored on a one-out, pinch-hit single by Abreu. Papelbon had closed out the previous two games.

Abreu, 38, stole second base and advanced to third on an infield hit by Tony Gwynn Jr. Kemp went to the plate with two out and the Dodgers trailing, 3-2.

Kemp hit a grounder to Rollins' backhand, forcing the former NL most valuable player to make a difficult throw. Kemp, who was sidelined for most of the last two months because of a strained left hamstring, beat it out by half a step. Abreu scored and the score was tied, 3-3.

"That's the sign of a good team when you can come back off a closer like that," said Clayton Kershaw, who limited the Phillies to a run and five hits over the first eight innings.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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