Matt Kemp's walk-off homer keeps Dodgers from getting swept

LOS ANGELES -- Chad Billingsley cooled off one of baseball's hottest offenses through eight innings before Matt Kemp got to Ryan Franklin again. This time, his homer salvaged a victory for the struggling Los Angeles Dodgers.

Kemp hit a two-run shot in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday that ended the Dodgers' five-game skid.

"It's one way to turn the page," new Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "We talked about getting that rock rolling a different direction. It's got to start somewhere and that's a pretty good start there."

Kemp homered to center field on a 2-2 pitch from Franklin (0-2), who has four blown saves in five chances. He did the same thing against Franklin in the series opener, but the Dodgers lost 9-5.

"He left one a little bit over the middle of the plate and I just kept my hands still," Kemp said. "He's got a really good sinker and a really good curveball and a cutter, so he moves the ball a lot. You've got to try to get a pitch in the middle and use your hands, and that's what I did."

He went 3 for 4 for his fourth consecutive multi-hit game, and his .474 average leads the majors.

Andre Ethier led off with a double to deep right field off Trever Miller in his final at-bat, extending his major league-leading hitting streak to 14 games.

Jonathan Broxton (1-0) got the win despite giving up a two-out RBI single in the top of the ninth by David Freese.

The Dodgers avoided their first four-game sweep at home since Aug. 9-12, 1993, against Colorado.

"It's been one of these tough breaks now where things haven't gone our way, but we're not going to hang our heads," Ethier said. "We found a way to bounce back."

The victory prevented the Cardinals from earning their first four-game sweep in Los Angeles since 1968. Their four-game winning streak also ended after piling up 48 hits and 29 runs in the first three games of the series.

Chris Carpenter and Billingsley dueled in a matchup of two of the National League's best daytime starters over the last five-plus seasons.

Carpenter allowed five hits over seven innings, struck out six and walked none, and now has a 1.57 ERA in nine career starts against the Dodgers.

"I commanded the ball well. My cutter was good and I had command of my fastball on both sides of the plate and kept the ball down," he said. "I was trying to be aggressive in the strike zone and I was ahead in the count for the most part. That's a pretty good lineup and every guy can hurt you in many different ways."

Billingsley gave up a season-low two hits over eight innings, struck out a season-high 11, and walked none in his longest outing of the season.

"It was one of the best outings from a starter that I've seen in a while," former Dodger Ryan Theriot said about Billingsley. "He was cutting it and he was sinking it. He was throwing the cutter in and throwing it away, the sinker in and away. He had a big curve ball and a slider at 91 miles an hour. How many starters throw a slider at 91? He got me on it once."

Mattingly let Billingsley go deep in part because the Dodgers' bullpen has been so shoddy lately.

"He was clean all day," Mattingly said. "His stuff was good and sharp. That club is on fire, so to stop that momentum was huge."

It was Kemp's second career game-winning homer. The other came last June 1 in a 1-0, 10-inning win over Arizona.

The only other time the Dodgers advanced a runner to third came with two outs in the third. Tony Gwynn Jr. was safe at first on a fielding error by shortstop Theriot. He moved to third on Jamey Carroll's infield single before Ethier lined out to first to end the inning.

Matt Holliday went 3 for 3 and scored the Cardinals' only run. He batted .563 with five doubles and five RBIs in the series.

The Cardinals didn't advance a runner to third until the eighth. Yadier Molina was safe at second when Ethier tried to shade his eyes with his left hand while attempting to make the catch in right field, but the ball dropped behind him for an error.

"I just overplayed it. I was at a tough angle," he said. "I looked down and took my eye off the ball."

Daniel Descalso sacrificed Molina to third, but pinch-hitter Jon Jay struck out and Theriot flied to right to end the inning.

Game notes
Billingsley struck out 10 or more batters for the seventh time in his career and first since last Sept. 26 at Arizona. ... The Cardinals' streak of scoring six or more runs ended at seven games, something they hadn't done since July 25-Aug. 3, 2004, when they did so in eight straight. ... Kemp came in leading the majors with a .453 batting average and has now hit safely in 14 of the Dodgers' 16 games. Last year, he led the team in homers with 28.