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Matt Kemp plays late hero once again in Dodgers' 3-1 victory

September 21, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Matt Kemp drove in two runs with a single in the top of the 10th inning.
Matt Kemp drove in two runs with a single in the top of the 10th inning. (Al Behrman / Associated…)

Matt Kemp's sore shoulder might be less than perfect, but his sense of the dramatic remains spot on.

For the second time in three games, it was Kemp to the rescue, the all-star center fielder driving in the winning run when the Dodgers were teetering on the edge of another devastating loss.

Kemp's two-run single in the 10th inning Friday gave the Dodgers a 3-1 victory over the Reds, keeping alive their slim playoff hopes.

With the Cardinals losing, the Brewers won to pull within 1 1/2 games of the second wild-card berth, and the Dodgers closed to within two games. L.A. has 11 games left to play.

With the Reds playing to clinch the National League Central Division and the Dodgers clinging to postseason life, it was tense and nervous game throughout.

The Dodgers, still struggling to generate offense, loaded the bases in the 10th without the benefit of a hit. Their rally started with a hit batter, followed by a botched fielder's choice, a sacrifice bunt and a walk.

Left-hander Sean Marshall relieved and struck out Andre Ethier. Marshall had Kemp down 0-2 before the slumping slugger slapped his two-run single. Kemp had homered in the top of the ninth Wednesday to beat the Nationals.

The Dodgers' bullpen continued to shine. Ronald Belisario struck out five of six batters in his two innings to earn the victory and raise his record to 8-1. Brandon League pitched a scoreless 10th to pick up his fourth save.

Joe Blanton started and pitched very well for the Dodgers, though he left with nothing to show for it.

The Dodgers staked Blanton to a 1-0 lead with a run off Bronson Arroyo in the second inning. Hanley Ramirez led off with a single, stole second and advanced to third on a Luis Cruz hit.

Juan Rivera then fisted a grounder to the right side that enabled Ramirez to score the night's first run. A rare manufactured run.

Arroyo, however, continued to keep the Dodgers off balance after the second inning. He's another in a seemingly never-ending series of soft-tossing starters that have given the Dodgers fits this month.

It remained a 1-0 game until the bottom of the fifth inning when former Dodger Xavier Paul hit a two-out ground-rule double to center field. Arroyo then helped himself, punching a single to left to score Paul with the tying run.

Blanton left after giving up a two-out single to Scott Rolen in the sixth inning. Left-hander Randy Choate came on to face Jay Bruce, but after Rolen stole only his second base of the season, Bruce was walked intentionally and the call went to rookie Shawn Tolleson.

Tolleson made it a nervous inning for the Dodgers, walking Drew Stubbs to load the bases. That brought Paul back up, but Tolleson was able to get him looking at a third strike.

In Blanton’s 5 2/3 innings, he gave up the one run on four hits. He walked one and struck out six. It was Blanton’s ninth start for the Dodgers since being acquired from the Phillies, and his best.

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