Kemp's 3-run blast powers Dodgers past Padres 4-1
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Matt Kemp didn't waste any time jumping on his old team.
He slugged a three-run homer in the first inning, Enrique Hernandez added a solo shot in the third and the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the San Diego Padres 4-1 on Friday night in a matchup of the two worst teams in the NL West.
Suddenly on a roll, the Dodgers won their third in a row and seventh in their last eight since May 17 while improving to 11-14 at home. They are next-to-last in the division, although they trail first-place Colorado by just 3 ½ games.
"As bad as we started off, we're having fun right now," Kemp said.
Lodged in the cellar, the Padres are 4-4 in their last eight and are 6 ½ games out of first. They've lost six in a row at Dodger Stadium.
Ross Stripling (2-1) has helped ignite the Dodgers after their slow start, winning his last outing in what was the start of a three-game sweep of the Nationals on the road last weekend. Against the Padres, the right-hander allowed one unearned run and six hits in 6 2/3 innings. Stripling struck out a career-high 10 against no walks.
"I felt like I was able to keep them off-balance and I had all four pitches working," Stripling said. "As you get guys out, you get more confident."
Facing his last batter, Stripling struck out Raffy Lopez on a backdoor cutter, a pitch he has been working on.
"He's been good in the bullpen and good in the rotation stepping up when guys get hurt," Kemp said.
Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his 10th save. The closer hasn't allowed a run in his last nine outings after his early struggles mimicked those of the team.
Kemp's offense has buoyed the Dodgers during their upswing. He went 3 for 4 with three RBIs and a run scored. His .338 batting average leads the team, as does his slugging percentage of .536.
Clayton Richard (3-6) gave up four runs and four hits in six innings, struck out four and walked three. The left-hander's run of pitching into the eighth in each of his last three starts ended, as did his two-game winning streak.
"That's pretty disappointing to put the team in the hole like that in the beginning of the game," Richard said. "It was just failure to execute pitches."
Travis Jankowski's RBI groundout in the third accounted for the Padres' lone run. Manuel Margot scored after doubling and advancing to third on a fielding error by Yasiel Puig.
Jose Pirela had a season-high-tying three hits and went 3 for 4 with a double for the Padres.
Kemp homered to center field after Richard yielded back-to-back walks to Chris Taylor and Justin Turner in the first.
"It looked like he took a while to settle in," Padres manager Andy Green said of Richard. "After he got past those first three batters he was done. Damage was already done at that point, but we didn't do enough offensively against Stripling to win a baseball game, either."
Hernandez's two-out homer was his seventh of the season.
Padres: LHP Joey Lucchesi (right hip strain) played catch up to 150 feet and could possibly start in another week or so. ... C Austin Hedges (right elbow tendinitis) had tests that were negative and the injury isn't thought to be structural. It surfaced in batting practice Wednesday, when he began feeling pain and took himself out of the lineup. ... RHP Phil Maton (right lat strain) went through his full throwing program off the mound. ... OF Hunter Renfroe (right elbow inflammation) is on an extended rehab assignment at Triple-A El Paso.
Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) is set to throw a four-inning simulated game on Saturday. If he comes out of it with no issues, the team will decide whether to send him on a minor league rehab assignment or return him to the rotation.
RHP Jordan Lyles (1-1, 3.11 ERA) makes his fourth start of the season for the Padres after 13 appearances out of the bullpen. LHP Alex Wood (1-4, 3.32) is 4-2 with a 2.39 ERA for the Dodgers in 13 games against San Diego.