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Dodgers lose to Brewers but are about to gain a star: Matt Kemp

Despite Monday's 3-2 loss to Milwaukee, the Dodgers went 9-5 while Matt Kemp was on the disabled list because of a hamstring strain. The MVP candidate is expected to be activated Tuesday.

May 28, 2012|By Dylan Hernandez

The Dodgers' clubhouse was silent and almost empty Monday night in the wake of a 3-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Then Matt Kemp walked in.

"We got some reinforcements!" Andre Ethier shouted.

Kemp smiled. Back from a two-game minor league rehabilitation assignment in New Mexico that he completed earlier in the day, he was set to be activated from the 15-day disabled list Tuesday.

Kemp made a brief stop at his locker. On his way out of the clubhouse, he teased Ethier about his shoes. Ethier teased him back.

"He's the big target in the lineup and it's nice to have him back there and have the attention focused back on him," Ethier said.

Including the loss Monday night, the Dodgers were 9-5 over the 15 days Kemp was sidelined because of a strained left hamstring. They increased their lead in the National League West over the San Francisco Giants from six to 61/2 games.

Ethier remained a constant force in the middle of the lineup. The cleanup hitter batted .360 in Kemp's absence. Ethier hit two home runs and drove in nine runs, increasing his National League-leading runs-batted-in total to 42.

And along the way, there were contributions from veterans such as Jerry Hairston Jr.and rookie call-ups such as Scott Van Slyke.

"That's why you call it a team, right?" Manager Don Mattingly said.

Mattingly called on the Dodgers' supporting cast to continue to make contributions.

"We still don't know how Matt's going to come back," Mattingly said.

Kemp hit a home run in both games he played for triple-A Albuquerque. He was five for seven and drove in five runs.

Juan Rivera, who was also in Albuquerque the last two days, was two for five with a home run. The Dodgers' opening-day left fielder, Rivera will continue his rehabilitation assignment with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga. He could be activated by the time the Dodgers visit Colorado on Friday.

The Dodgers might have won again without them Monday night if not for a disputed call at first base by umpire Todd Tichenor.

Norichika Aoki was called safe at first base to start the sixth inning, as Tichenor ruled that first baseman James Loney was off the bag when fielding a throw by pitcher Aaron Harang. Replays indicated Loney's foot was on the base.

Loney protested. So did Mattingly.

"We have a pretty good view of it," Mattingly said. "He's on the bag and we know it. We asked [Tichenor] to get help. He wouldn't do that."

Later in the inning, Aoki scored on a single by Aramis Ramirez, who'd homered in the fourth, and Ryan Braun scored on Rickie Weeks' sacrifice fly, increasing the Brewers' lead to 3-1.

Loney questioned why Tichenor didn't seek help from fellow crew members.

"We knew he missed the call right away," Loney said. "I didn't have to go see the replay. The confusing part, I think, to a lot of people would be, why wouldn't you ask for help? You're saying that's your call, but nobody's perfect."

Loney advocated wider use of replay review.

"The more times these calls happen, the more people will want technology involved to get it right," he said. "We've already started to do that with the home runs. . . . Get it right, whatever it takes."

He called for other changes in the way games are officiated, suggesting that the home plate umpire might not be in the best position to call balls and strikes.

"When you watch from center field, that's the best way to see balls and strikes," Loney said.

Asked if he wanted the game to be called by robots, Loney said, "We'll probably eventually get there. We could be within 50 years of that."

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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