Matt Kemp's 2 homers pace Dodgers' fourth straight victory
LOS ANGELES -- Matt Kemp is making a case for himself, regardless of where he's playing the rest of the season.
With his name being bandied about ahead of Thursday's trade deadline, Kemp hit a pair of two-run homers to power the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Atlanta Braves 8-4 Tuesday night.
His four RBIs were a season high as he surpassed 600 career RBIs with 603. Kemp is hitting .400 in 10 games since the All-Star break.
"I'm not worried about any rumors," he said. "I'm just worried about helping my team win."
Kemp is playing right field, where he began his career, having been moved from center field in the Dodgers' crowded outfield.
"I'd play anywhere right now," he said. "I'm just happy to be in the lineup."
Yasiel Puig had four hits with two runs scored for the first-place Dodgers, who won their season-high fourth straight. Adrian Gonzalez is also hitting .400 since the break. He had two doubles, two runs scored and two RBIs.
"That's what we envision offensively," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "We got contributions from all over."
The Dodgers trailed twice in their first meeting with the Braves since eliminating them in a National League division series last season.
Puig came up a home run short of hitting for the cycle, lifting his team-leading average to .317. He struck out in his final at-bat after tying his career high in hits.
Los Angeles rallied from a two-run deficit to tie it 4-all on an RBI double by Gonzalez and an RBI single by Carl Crawford in the fifth.
That set the stage for outfielders Crawford and Kemp to put the Dodgers ahead in the seventh.
Crawford had an RBI groundout to second base and Kemp followed with his second two-run shot over the center field fence for a 7-4 lead. Gonzalez doubled in another run in the eighth.
Brandon League (2-2) got the victory in one inning of relief, allowing one hit and one walk. Kenley Jansen got four outs for his 31st save.
Kemp's first two-run shot in the second briefly gave the Dodgers a 2-1 lead.
"Matt did a good job hitting that curveball," Braves starter and former Dodger Aaron Harang said. "That's the Matt Kemp I remember from the first half of 2012."
Freddie Freeman, who went 2 for 4, put Atlanta back in front 3-2 in the third with his own two-run homer. Tommy La Stella tied a career-best with three hits and scored a run as the Braves' three-game winning streak ended.
Anthony Varvaro (3-3) took the loss, giving up three runs and four hits in one relief inning.
Dodgers starter Josh Beckett struggled through another outing. The right-hander gave up four runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings, struck out two and walked one in dropping to 0-5 in his last six home starts.
Harang faced his old team for the first time since being traded in 2012. The right-hander yielded four runs and nine hits in six innings, struck out three and walked one after going 4-0 in his previous six outings.
Braves: Right fielder Jason Heyward was out of the lineup with lingering soreness in his lower back after straining himself while chasing a foul ball last Thursday. Rookie reliever Shae Simmons was placed on the 15-day DL with a sore shoulder. The team recalled reliever Juan Jaime from Triple-A Gwinnett to take the roster spot of Simmons, who accompanied the team for the start of an eight-game, three-city road trip.
Dodgers: Left-hander Scott Elbert was reinstated from the 60-day DL and designated him for assignment. He made 15 rehab appearances, including two starts for Rookie-advanced Ogden, Class-A Rancho Cucamonga and Triple-A Albuquerque as he worked his way back from Tommy John surgery last year. Elbert was 0-1 with a 4.26 ERA for those minor league affiliates. He last pitched in the majors in August 2012.
Braves: Left-hander Alex Wood (7-8) starts for the Braves in the middle game of the series. He has pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings in two career games against the Dodgers, allowing one hit and striking out three.
Dodgers: Zack Greinke (12-5) starts for the Dodgers. The right-hander is 6-1 at home with a 2.73 ERA and holds opposing batters to a .222 batting average. He is 1-1 with a 3.50 ERA in three career starts against the Braves.
Newly acquired second baseman Darwin Barney could join the Dodgers by Wednesday. He was acquired in a trade with the Cubs on Monday for a player to be named. Barney will give the team depth off the bench. He won a Gold Glove in 2012, but was let go by Chicago after hitting .230 with 16 RBIs in 72 games this season.
A PLEASANT GOOD EVENING
Dodgers fans will continue hearing that opening line from 86-year-old Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully, who will return to the booth for his record 66th season in 2015. The announcement was made by a trio of players on the stadium video board during the game.
Braves right fielder Jordan Schafer hit Puig, sliding headfirst, in the head with a throw in the seventh inning with the scored tied 4-all. The throw knocked Puig's helmet off before he barely got his hand safely on the base.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I made some bad pitches over the middle of the plate that he could hit," Harang said of Puig. "He has the power to drive the ball with authority and his speed helps him to get those extra bases."
LAD win 3-0
- Home Plate Umpire - Mike Estabrook
- First Base Umpire - Hunter Wendelstedt
- Second Base Umpire - Mike DiMuro
- Third Base Umpire - Jerry Layne