PHOENIX (AP) - Joe Saunders had respectable numbers, giving up five hits in six innings.
The problem for the Arizona left-hander was that two of those hits were homers, spoiling an otherwise good night at the ballpark.
All-Star Matt Kemp homered and drove in four runs, and Juan Rivera added a solo shot off Saunders in the Diamondbacks' 6-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night.
``It was a battle,' said Saunders, who had won three straight. ``I didn't feel like I had my best stuff, but I tried to keep the ball in the best I could. I made two mistakes, two first-pitch fastballs to Rivera and Kemp, and that was pretty much the difference. Other than that, I thought I threw the ball OK.'
Even with Saunders' two mistakes, the Diamondbacks had their chances.
Arizona capitalized on third baseman Juan Uribe's fielding error in the seventh inning, scoring four runs on All-Star Miguel Montero's RBI single and a three-run homer by Xavier Nady. The Diamondbacks had a runner on in the eighth inning and two on in the ninth, but Javy Guerra struck out Brandon Allen looking to send Arizona to its fourth loss in six games.
``They did a lot of damage with two outs on us,' Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. ``They made mistakes, we made some mistakes, but ultimately we were unable to hold them after Joe got out of the game.'
Kemp had something to do with it.
The All-Star was booed during Monday's Home Run Derby by Arizona fans who were upset he had been picked for the NL team instead of Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton and didn't fare so well once it started, failing to get out of the first round.
Kemp made up for it when the game counted, though, throwing out Willie Bloomquist at the plate in the first inning, hitting a two-run homer off Joe Saunders (6-8) in the sixth and adding a two-run single in the seventh.
``It's good to see it,' Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. ``I've been to a few All-Star games and you really come out with a lot of energy. You get around all the guys considered around the top of the game and you'd think you'd be tired, but you really come out with a lot of energy. If it he'd had 10 in a row or something, it'd be a different thing, but that first game is a jolt.'
Kemp's homer helped the Dodgers keep up the small bit of momentum they carried into the All-Star break.
While Kemp had a big game offensively and defensively, Rivera had an impressive debut, homering in his first at-bat since being traded from Toronto. Clayton Kershaw (10-4) worked around Uribe's costly error in the seventh inning to win for the fourth time in five starts and the bullpen escaped a couple of tight spots over the final two frames to help the Dodgers open the second half of the season with a win.
``It feels good,' said Kemp, whose homer was his 23rd. ``We closed out the first half strong, winning four games in a row, and to come back tonight in get another win, we've just got to keep going.'
The Dodgers picked up Rivera during the All-Star break and he didn't take long to make an impression, hitting the first pitch he saw from Saunders out to left in the second inning. Rivera added a two-out single in the fourth and scored on Dioner Navarro's single to left. Kemp's two big hits made it 6-0,
But, after baffling the Diamondbacks through the first six innings, Kershaw struggled a bit after Uribe's boot, giving up Montero's single and Nady's third homer that cut the lead to 6-4.
MacDougal worked around a walk in the eighth inning, Hong-Chih Kuo got the first two outs of the ninth and Guerra punched out Allen with runners on first and third for his fifth save, but Kershaw was frustrated that he allowed four runs, even if they weren't earned.
``That's my fault,' said Kershaw, who allowed five hits and struck out eight after working a perfect inning of relief in the All-Star game on Tuesday. ``Errors are going to happen. I've got to pick Juan up right there. You've got to pick up your defenders when they make errors just like they picked up me by scoring all those runs.'
Saunders had been sharp after a 2-6 start to the season, going 6-2 with a 2.73 ERA in 10 starts before the All-Star break. The left-hander baffled the Cardinals his last outing, holding them to one hit over five innings before coming out after a long rain delay.
He wasn't quite as good against the Dodgers. Saunders allowed five hits, but two of those were homers, leading to four runs - three earned - in six innings.
``He was fine. He gave up two first-pitch home runs,' Gibson said. ``We know they are very aggressive early. He didn't get those pitches where he wanted to, but it has been a long layoff. He probably wasn't as sharp as he wanted to be.'
Notes: The Diamondbacks recalled Allen from Triple-A Reno and activated Geoff Blum from the DL before the game, sending down Juan Miranda and Wily Mo Pena. ... Saunders, who leads Arizona with 44 walks, issued just one against the Dodgers. ... Kershaw had struck out at least nine in his previous four starts.
The Associated Press News Service
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