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Matt Kemp homers for second consecutive game in Dodgers' 7-6 win

Kemp's two-run homer in the first inning set the Dodgers on their way to a wild victory over the New York Mets. Luis Cruz hits a two-run shot in the third inning for his first career home run.

July 20, 2012|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Matt Kemp hits a two-run home run in the first inning against the New York Mets Friday night.
Matt Kemp hits a two-run home run in the first inning against the New York… (Mike Stobe / Getty Images )

NEW YORK — Matt Kemp is back.

He came back from the disabled list in the Dodgers' first game after the All-Star break, but now he's really back.

Kemp hit his second home run in as many games Friday, sending a first-inning offering from Johan Santana high over the left-field wall at Citi Field. The two-run home run set the Dodgers on their way to a wild 7-6 victory over the New York Mets in the opening game of a three-game series.

"I'm back?" Kemp asked. "I guess, if that's what you want to call it."

Except for how the Dodgers were forced to empty their bullpen in a game they once led by a 6-2 margin, this was a night of celebration for the long-slumping club.

Kenley Jansen saved his second game since he allowed the San Diego Padres to steal home in a spectacular ninth-inning meltdown last week. Luis Cruz hit his first career home run. And, as Cruz pointed out, "We got two in a row. It's a streak."

Before this two-win "streak," the Dodgers had lost 19 of their last 25 games and fallen out of first place.

The Dodgers didn't know it at the time, but they could have dropped yet another game if not for what Manager Don Mattingly admitted was a botched hit-and-run play in the seventh inning.

After drawing his second walk of the game in the seventh inning, Andre Ethier took off from first base with Juan Rivera at the plate. Rivera took the pitch.

Ethier was credited with stealing second base and later scored on a single by Rivera to extend the Dodgers' lead to 7-4. The run turned out to be critical, as rookie pinch-hitter Jordany Valdespin hit a two-run home run off Shawn Tolleson in the bottom of the inning to close the gap to 7-6.

"That wasn't a hit-and-run," Ethier said. "I was just going."

Uh-huh.

"It wasn't a hit and run," Ethier insisted.

His laugh betrayed him.

"I have the green light," he said. "I'll tell you the truth. That wasn't a hit-and-run. I swear it wasn't. My legs were feeling pretty good after the off day."

He was still laughing.

"No," he finally confessed. "How many bases have I stolen?"

Two this season, counting that one.

Also saying his legs felt strong, only in a far more serious tone, was Kemp.

"I could feel my legs getting under me," he said. "I just felt like it was getting back."

Kemp's homer put the Dodgers ahead, 2-0. Ethier followed that with a double and scored on a single byJerry Hairston Jr.to increase the lead to 3-0.

An error by Hairston led to a two-run first inning for the Mets, but Ethier drew a bases-loaded walk in the second inning.

A two-run home run by Cruz in the third inning put the Dodgers up, 6-2.

Santana, who blanked the Dodgers over eight innings in Los Angeles on June 30, lasted only three innings. The former Cy Young Award winner was charged with six runs, seven hits and three walks.

The Mets have had concerns about Santana since he threw 134 pitches in a no-hitter against theSt. Louis Cardinalson June 1. He has given up 19 runs in 12 2/3 innings over his last three starts, all losses.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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