In his long-awaited return to the lineup, Matt Kemp led the Los Angeles Dodgers to the brink of their first NL West crown in four years.
Kemp will try to help the Dodgers secure that title Wednesday night with a victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Making his first start since July 21, Kemp went 4 for 4 with three RBIs in Tuesday's 9-3 victory that snapped a four-game skid. Those nine runs matched Los Angeles' total during its losing streak.
Kemp struck out in a pinch-hit appearance to end Monday's 2-1 loss to Arizona after being activated from the disabled list for third time this season.
"It feels good to just be able to be here with the team and be able to go out there and run out with them and compete with them and do all that,' said Kemp, who had been dealing with a sprained left ankle. "I missed baseball, man."
Hanley Ramirez also singled and scored three runs in his first game since Thursday. The team's top hitter was recovering from an irritated nerve in his back.
Carl Crawford (back) and Andre Ethier (ankle) are still dealing with injuries and might not return before Los Angeles (87-64) wraps up its first division title since 2009.
The Dodgers have a 10 1/2-game lead over the second-place Diamondbacks (76-74) and their magic number is down to two.
Stephen Fife (4-3, 3.38 ERA) will try to lead the Dodgers to the West crown in a spot start. The right-hander, who is giving Clayton Kershaw some extra rest, is 4-3 with a 1.94 ERA in his last eight starts and has received two runs or fewer of support six times.
Fife, however, has given up seven runs over five innings in his two relief appearances since being called up from the minors Sept. 1. He's starting for the first time since going 5 1-3 innings in a 1-0 win over the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 4.
"Relieving for me is a challenge. It's interesting having to get going in three or four minutes. I've tried to learn how," Fife told the team's website. "But basically, all I've ever done in my baseball life is start and I'm definitely more comfortable starting."
Fife gave up two runs over 4 1-3 innings in his only start against Arizona on Aug. 1, 2012, taking the loss in a 4-0 defeat.
In this matchup, he'll pitch opposite Brandon McCarthy (4-9, 4.58), who is 2-1 with a 2.10 ERA in his last four outings. The right-hander, though, admittedly wasn't at his best Friday while not factoring in the decision in a 7-5 loss to Colorado.
McCarthy gave up a season-high 11 hits but was charged with only two runs over six innings.
"I didn't feel sharp at all," he told the team's website. "I didn't feel strong. It was one of those ones that you have to battle through."
McCarthy also didn't receive a decision in his only meeting with the Dodgers this season, a 5-3 win May 7, allowing three runs over 6 1-3 innings.
Paul Goldschmidt will try to spoil the Dodgers' plans for a celebration while continuing his hot hitting. The NL leader with 116 RBIs and co-leader with 33 homers is 15 for 27 (.556) in his last seven games.
Goldschmidt, who has six extra-base hits and nine RBIs during that stretch, is batting .406 in his last 27 contests against Los Angeles and is 2 for 2 all-time against Fife.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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