08/03/09 1:41 AM ET
Kemp's five RBIs power Dodgers to win
Slugger hits three-run homer; Billingsley gets 11th victory
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
And the Dodgers are a lot more than Manny making a tumbling shoestring catch in left field, exchanging "wows" with teammates, bowing to fans, then leaving in a double-switch.
The Dodgers, who beat up the Braves on Sunday night, 9-1, were an overpowering Chad Billingsley (five scoreless innings before leaving with a hamstring cramp), a powerful Matt Kemp (a three-run homer and five RBIs), and an offense unleashing a 19-hit attack and beating Jair Jurrjens (9-8).
It came one night after the Dodgers gave one away to the Braves, and it was their third win in the past four games, completing a trip that started 0-3 in St. Louis.
"Going 3-4 on a trip is not good," said manager Joe Torre. "But when you lose the first three, it's pretty good, especially with who we had to beat tonight. The kid pitched well against us."
The Dodgers (65-40) not only don't think about what happened in the previous game or series, it's as if they don't even remember.
"We've got Alzheimer's," said Randy Wolf, quick to note he's not making light of a serious illness, just underscoring his club's living-the-moment approach.
They didn't even have their cleanup hitter for this game, as third baseman Casey Blake was scratched with a bruised left wrist. So the Dodgers moved James Loney up to fourth and he had three hits with two RBIs. Kemp moved up to fifth and he also had three hits, including a three-run blast to center on an 0-2 pitch in the fifth and a two-run single in the eighth.
"He killed that ball," said Torre. "He's one of those guys -- you don't want to compare him or say he's as good as Alex [Rodriguez] or [Darryl] Strawberry -- but those types of hitters get the ball in the air and it looks like a fly ball and it doesn't come down. He's got that kind of power. [Mike] Piazza was another one. You think, 'Good, he missed it,' and it keeps going."
Add up the start of Billingsley (11-6), three more hits from Andre Ethier, a bullpen that parades 90-mph arms, and the Braves, who play the Phillies 18 times a year, were impressed.
"They're better than a really good team," said Braves catcher Brian McCann. "Their lineup one to eight is probably the best you're going to find."
After Billingsley left, Scott Elbert earned a compliment from Torre for 2 2/3 innings of relief. Ramon Troncoso pitched the ninth with an eight-run lead, reinforcing the impression made on the Braves.
"Their pitching staff is pretty good," said Matt Diaz. "I don't know what the role that last guy has on their team. But I know he has a 2.00 ERA and nasty stuff. He's not their setup guy and he's not their closer. So when you've got that guy just getting innings, that's a pretty deep bullpen."
Because of the late national telecast, the Dodgers figure to arrive in Los Angeles around 4 a.m. PT on Monday, with a seven-game homestand opening Monday night against Milwaukee. The Braves (53-52) also had to fly to San Diego.
The way the trip ended on the field for the Dodgers figured to make the trip in the air a little easier to take.
"This is the way we've been doing it all year," Russell Martin said of his club's ability to bounce back. "I just think every individual here has that kind of character not to be intimidated or to let down. After yesterday, we came back to win the series and we can go home and have a happy flight."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.