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Matt Kemp can't enjoy first homer, Mets win with grand slam, 7-3

Mets rally with one in the ninth against Brandon League, then win it in the 10th on Jordany Valdespin's walk-off slam.

April 24, 2013|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Matt Kemp eyes his first home run of the season, but the Dodgers can't hold off the Mets and lose,7-3, in the 10th inning on a grand slam.
Matt Kemp eyes his first home run of the season, but the Dodgers can't… (Elsa / Getty Images )

NEW YORK — Matt Kemp waited a long time to hit his first home run of the season — 75 homerless at-bats, plus the two minutes and 29 seconds he spent standing at third base while the umpires reviewed video of his opposite-field blast.

But Kemp didn't want to talk about his two-run shot off rookie flamethrower Matt Harvey, not with the Dodgers blowing a lead in the ninth inning and falling to the New York Mets, 7-3, on a 10th-inning walk-off grand slam by Jordany Valdespin.

"We lost the game," Kemp said. "That's the bottom line."

BOX SCORE: New York Mets 7, Dodgers 3

The Dodgers took a 3-1 lead on Kemp's sixth-inning home run and still held a 3-2 advantage heading into the bottom of the ninth with closer Brandon League taking the mound. But Carl Crawford's attempt at a sliding catch resulted in a double for Mike Baxter and started a sequence of events that sent the contest into extra innings.

His bullpen depleted, Manager Don Mattingly was forced to put the game in the hands of rookie Josh Wall, who loaded the bases and served up a game-ending home run by Valdespin that sailed high above the heads of the Dodgers' five-man infield.

Like many of the pitches Crawford has missed at the plate over the last week, the ball Baxter hit in his direction was within reach. Crawford charged in and slid, only for the ball to bounce out of his glove. Baxter reached second and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Ruben Tejada. Daniel Murphy popped up in foul territory to third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr., who made a difficult catch while leaning over a railing.

But League served up a line-drive single to David Wright and the score was tied, 3-3. The blown save was League's first of the season.

Crawford left the clubhouse without speaking to reporters.

Mattingly defended Crawford, who entered the game in the sixth inning as part of a double switch. Crawford was held out of the starting lineup in part because he was two for 19 over his previous five games. His average has dropped from .392 to .306 over the last week.

"Catch it, probably, a lot, miss it some," Mattingly said. "It's one of those where you're full run, you're sliding. It's one of those plays, kind of a do-or-die play."

Kemp grounded into a fielder's choice in the first inning that put the Dodgers ahead, 1-0. His home run came on a 95-mph fastball by Harvey, who entered the game 4-0 with an earned-run average of 0.93.

The ball hit the hands of a security guard standing behind the right-field wall and bounced back into the field of play, resulting in some confusion. The umpires reviewed the play and ruled it a home run, Kemp's first since an off-season shoulder operation.

"I'm not worried about home runs," Kemp said. "The home runs are going to come."

Kemp has raised his average from .182 to .250 over his last five games.

With the Dodgers adding Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez over the last eight months, Mattingly said Kemp doesn't have to replicate his 2011 season for the Dodgers to be successful. That was the season Kemp hit .324 with 39 home runs and 126 runs batted in.

"We see that one year," Mattingly said. "You hope that's the norm, but that really hasn't been the norm."

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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