LOS ANGELES -- It may only be nine games into the season, but everything sure is clicking for the Dodgers.
In Saturday's contest against the Padres, the team did it on both sides of the ball. Matt Kemp hit a pair of two-run home runs and seven dominant innings from Ted Lilly helped the Dodgers to a 6-1 win over the Padres at Dodger Stadium in front of 46,549.
Kemp started it off in the first, smacking a two-run home run on a 0-2 fastball to straightaway center field. Andre Ethier then followed suit, belting a solo shot off Padres right-hander Joe Wieland, marking the first time this season the Dodgers have hit back-to-back home runs.
The Dodgers didn't stop there against Wieland, who made his Major League debut. James Loney then roped a double down the left-field line, Jerry Hairston singled him to third, and Adam Kennedy added a sacrifice fly to give Los Angeles an early 4-1 lead.
"So far, so good," Kemp said. "As a team we have played great. The main thing is starting out fast. It doesn't matter who we play or where we go, we just take care of business for ourselves and get as many wins as we can."
The Dodgers are off to an 8-1 start for the first time since 1981. That 1981 team went on to win the franchise's fifth World Championship and began the season 9-1.
Kemp hit another two-run shot in the second inning, this time to right field. It marked just the fourth multi-homer game in the slugging center fielder's career and ignited the crowd into "MVP" chants.
He now ranks among the Major League leaders in batting average (.457), home runs (5) and RBIs (15). Ethier has 14 RBIs this season and has driven in runs in seven of the Dodgers' nine games.
"Nothing really surprises me about him anymore. He put two good swings on those pitches," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Kemp. "He gets us on the board and then Andre is right behind him. It was a good night. We were able to get some guys in the lineup, score some runs.
"We need that one-two punch and if those guys can do that all year long, it makes us a better club and then we just have to contribute around them."
Saturday marked Kemp's sixth multi-hit game and his third three-hit contest of the season, after he got an infield single in the seventh.
"Is there a better player in the game right now?" asked Padres manager Bud Black. "Those guys, back to back, the way they're swinging ... there's arguably not a better combination in baseball swinging as well as they are."
Those six early runs helped Lilly, who was economical in his first start of the season after beginning the year on the disabled list with a strained neck.
The only run the Padres scored against Lilly came in the first. After a throwing error by Dee Gordon put leadoff hitter Cameron Maybin on second, Jesus Guzman singled him home.
Lilly then kept the Padres hitless until the seventh, when Chase Headley got an infield single to lead off the inning.
"I was getting ahead of hitters, throwing strike one," Lilly said. "I got them in swing mode, and then expanding tonight gave me a lot of success."
The left-hander finished surrendering just an unearned run on two hits for his first win of the season. Striking out four and walking one, Lilly threw only 79 pitches, 53 of which were strikes.
While Lilly felt he had something still left in the tank after seven innings, Mattingly opted for Mike MacDougal in the eighth and Jamey Wright in the ninth. Both were near spotless, allowing only one walk.
"I wanted to go out there and give us a chance like the others have," Lilly said. "I have been sitting and watching a lot of the games and it has been a collective effort. Pitching and hitting have been great for us and that is what it takes to be a winner."
Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.