LOS ANGELES (AP) — Matt Kemp was insistent about getting back into the Los Angeles Dodgers’ lineup Tuesday night after three frustrating weeks on the disabled list, and the last thing on his mind was whether his troublesome right hamstring would hold up.
So when it came time to test his leg, it passed with flying colors.
Kemp ran a long way and made a marvelous catch for the final out of a 6-5 victory over the slumping San Francisco Giants, extending Los Angeles’ winning streak to a season-best four games.
“You can’t really think like that,” Kemp said when asked if he was relieved he didn’t hurt his hamstring again. “I mean, I’ve thought like that after I came back from it last year, and it happened again. So I can’t play timid. I have to let it go. And if it goes, it goes. Hamstrings are tricky, and you never know when they’re good. But right now it feels good and I’m glad we got the win.”
With runners at first and second, Marco Scutaro hit a long drive to center. Kemp, playing shallow with the potential tying run at second base, raced back and reached over his shoulder to make a sliding catch on the warning track. He popped up and smacked the wall hard, then shouted in excitement.
“Scutaro doesn’t really drive the ball to center field like that, so he surprised me a little bit,” the two-time Gold Glove winner said. “He’s a good contact hitter that likes to drive the ball the other way in the hole and back up the middle, so I was just anticipating him trying to hit a ground ball up the middle, and he hit it pretty good. So I had to drop my head and run back.”
Scutaro is homerless in 142 career at-bats against the Dodgers.
“I thought it had a good shot to go out,” Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford said. “It looked like he hit it well, but I knew Kemp was out there and he’s a good center fielder. So he was going to do all he could to not let it drop. It was bad luck for us. That’s kind of what’s been happening a lot to us lately.”
Kemp returned to the lineup after missing 24 games with a right hamstring strain. He was injured May 29 while running down a double in right-center by Mike Trout at Angel Stadium. It was the fourth time in his career that Kemp landed on the DL, including two stints last season because of a left hamstring strain that cost him a combined 51 games.
“I had to beg him to let me play today,” Kemp said, referring to manager Don Mattingly. “I was telling him I was just sick of watching my team play without me. It kind of feels like you’re not part of the team when you’re on the DL, so I just wanted to get back out there with the guys.”
Mark Ellis and Hanley Ramirez each hit a two-run homer for the Dodgers, and rookie Stephen Fife pitched effectively into the seventh inning. Los Angeles handed the defending World Series champions their third loss in a row and eighth in 11 games, dropping them under .500 for the first time since losing to the Dodgers on opening day.
It’s the latest the Giants have been below the break-even mark in any season since 2008, when they finished 72-90 in Bruce Bochy’s second year as manager.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know we were under .500. I just knew we haven’t been playing well. That’s a wake-up call in itself,” Crawford said.
Fife (2-2) allowed three runs and four hits, including solo homers by Brandon Belt and NL MVP Buster Posey, in 6 2-3 innings. The 26-year-old right-hander struck out three and walked two in his 11th major league start, only the second in which he gave up more than two runs.
With closer Kenley Jansen unavailable after pitching three consecutive days, demoted closer Brandon League came on in the ninth to protect a 6-3 lead and did not retire any of the three batters he faced.
Belt hit an RBI double and Andres Torres added an RBI single off League before Paco Gonzalez got three outs for his first major league save — barely.
Mike Kickham (0-2) was charged with six runs, five earned, and eight hits over 5 1-3 innings in his second big league start.
The Dodgers broke a 2-all tie with four runs in the sixth. Adrian Gonzalez doubled and Ramirez followed with a drive off the left-field foul pole for his fifth homer. Kickham gave up singles to his next two batters before rookie Jake Dunning came in and gave up an RBI single by Tim Federowicz.
Nick Punto kept the inning alive when he beat the relay throw to first base with a headfirst slide on a potential double-play grounder. Andre Ethier then scored on Dunning’s wild pitch to Fife.
Belt, who was 3 for 4 after coming in 4 for 43 lifetime at Dodger Stadium, got one of the runs back for the Giants in the seventh with his eighth homer.
Fife retired his first 11 batters before Posey drove an 0-1 pitch barely over the left-field fence for his ninth homer. The Giants tied it in the fifth on a run-scoring groundout by Torres.
Ellis opened the scoring with his fourth homer, a two-run shot with two outs in the third after Federowicz led off with a double.
NOTES: Punto, starting at 3B while Juan Uribe got the night off, jumped to pull down Pablo Sandoval’s line drive in the second inning. Hunter Pence, the next batter, lifted a popup toward the stands and Punto stretched over the barrier before landing in the first row with the ball in his glove. … Kemp was 1 for 4 with a single. He is homerless in 106 at-bats at Dodger Stadium since his two-run shot off Colorado’s Jorge De La Rosa last Sept. 20. … The Giants have been outhomered 19-5 over their last 15 games. … The Dodgers, who were 11-13 in Kemp’s absence, opened a roster spot for him by optioning INF-OF Elian Herrera to Triple-A Albuquerque. … Giants CF Angel Pagan had surgery in Los Angeles to repair a tendon in his left hamstring, an injury that has sidelined him since May 26.