Despite the drama surrounding the Los Angeles Dodgers, Matt Kemp has made a recent habit of dramatic hits in helping them win four of five.
Los Angeles will try to keep rolling as Chad Billingsley looks to build on his best outing of the season in the opener of a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs on Friday.
Kemp hit his second game-ending home run in five days, a two-run shot in the 12th inning to beat Atlanta 5-3 on Thursday. It marked the second straight victory for the Dodgers (10-10) since commissioner Bud Selig announced Wednesday that Major League Baseball seized control of the team due to the well-publicized divorce of owner Frank McCourt and his wife.
Andre Ethier went 2 for 5 on Thursday, extending his career-best hitting streak to 18 games. Kemp and Either are tied with Cubs' shortstop Starlin Castro atop the NL with 30 hits.
"Matty's awesome," said starter Clayton Kershaw, who gave up a two-out, two-run single in the ninth allowing Atlanta to take the lead. "I told him what an incredible job he did and thanks for picking me up.
"In that situation, where both bullpens are getting eaten up, for Matty to pull it out like that with an 0-2 count, it was an awesome at-bat."
Kemp ended Billingsley's last start with a two-run homer in the ninth, giving the Dodgers a 2-1 victory against St. Louis on Sunday. Billingsley (1-1, 4.91 ERA) pitched eight scoreless innings, giving up three hits and striking out 11.
He's won his last two starts against the Cubs, allowing six earned runs in 12 1-3 innings. The right-hander is 3-3 with a 3.79 ERA in eight appearances versus Chicago (9-9).
Billingsley will be opposed by Casey Coleman (1-0, 4.22), who is coming off a solid outing of his own.
The right-hander allowed one run in 5 2-3 innings Saturday, beating Colorado 8-3. He's never faced the Dodgers.
Chicago split a doubleheader Wednesday against San Diego, as Reed Johnson homered in the bottom of the 11th for a 2-1 victory in the opener before the Cubs fell 5-4 in the second game.
Manager Mike Quade has been pleased with the play of his club, though he said there's still a long way to go.
"We've got to work some things out and we still have to get better," Quade told the team's official website. "I'm just so pleased with the effort."
Castro, the youngest player in the majors, went 1 for 9 in the doubleheader but is hitting .375 with a team-high 14 runs. He's hit in each of the first three spots in the lineup this season.
"The 1-2-3 hole could be musical chairs depending on who I have in the lineup on a particular day," Quade said. "Other than my cleanup hitter (Aramis Ramirez), everybody's able to adjust and understands if we do make some changes."
However, the Dodgers may pose a problem for Castro as he went 3 for 22 (.136) in six games against them in 2010.
Los Angeles won three of four meetings at home last season, but the Cubs took two of three in Chicago.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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