Kemp got off to a scintillating start this season, posting a slash line of .362/.427/.610 in April with six home runs and 19 RBI. He wasn't expected to maintain that pace, of course, and he came into Tuesday's game with a slash line of .224/.328/.306 in May, including just two extra-base hits.
Don Mattingly, after being the hitting coach the last 2 1/2 years, doesn't interfere with new hitting coach Jeff Pentland too much. Pentland was like an assistant hitting coach for Mattingly, and they're on the same page with hitting philosophies.
But while Mattingly might not be in the cage anymore, he talked with Kemp and Andre Ethier before Tuesday's game. His message was a reminder that, even though the offense is struggling, don't feel as if you have to do it all every night.
"Matt and Andre, we've asked a lot of them this year," Mattingly said. "They have to keep doing their thing, not do too much. We need to get production from other areas. Those guys can't go out of their game. They have to stay with what they do. That's all we're asking."
A visit from Kemp's agent, former major-leaguer Dave Stewart, put a smile on Kemp's face in batting practice. Kemp considers Stewart a family member, and he put on a show for him in the game. He robbed Casey McGehee of a double, saving two runs, with a long running catch in right-center to end the first inning. Then he hauled in Prince Fielder's towering drive to center in the sixth, saving another run.
Kemp's home run went to right field, a towering drive that was extra impressive because it was a cool night with lots of moisture in the air, making it tough for the ball to travel.
"Here tonight, you had to crush that thing for it to go out," Mattingly said. "For him to go (opposite field) like that ... there's things he does that not a lot of guys can do."
Matt Guerrier ended up getting the save. Vicente Padilla, third on the closer depth chart, felt some stiffness in his right forearm and wasn't available. He hasn't pitched since Friday, and while Mattingly said he hoped Padilla would be available Wednesday, anytime a player has an injury to the same area that recently underwent surgery, it's not a good thing. More will be known about Padilla on Wednesday.
Dodger starters are tied for third in the Majors with 27 quality starts: Most Quality Starts, MLB Philadelphia Phillies 29 Los Angeles Dodgers 28 Oakland Athletics 28 Atlanta Braves 27 Cleveland Indians 27 Detroit Tigers 27 Los Angeles Angels 27 Los Angeles starters rank fourth in the National League with a 3.56 ERA (104 ER/262.2 IP) and have the third-most strikeouts in the Majors with 216.NOTES, QUOTES
--Hiroki Kuroda worked 7.2 scoreless innings and has now tossed 14.2 consecutive innings without allowing a run. Kuroda improved to 3-0 in his three career starts against Milwaukee (also one relief appearance) and lowered his career ERA to 2.43 in 25 career games (24 starts) against NL Central opponents. Kuroda's start was the ninth quality start for a Dodger in the last 10 games. Los Angeles starters have posted a 1.67 ERA and limited opponents to a .204 batting average with 59 strikeouts since May 7. Not be outdone, the bullpen did not allow a run for the fourth consecutive game (8.1 IP) as Matt Guerrier picked up the sixth save of his career and first since June 8, 2010 against the Royals.
--1B James Loney was dropped to seventh in the lineup and went 1-for-4. After a horrible start, Loney is doing better lately, 14-for-47 (.298) since May 3, to raise his average from .204 to .231 overall. But he's still searching for his first RBI this month.
--RF Andre Ethier is one of the few Dodgers excited that Matt Cain was pushed back to start Wednesday's game as a result of the Giants getting rained out Sunday. Ethier is a whopping 22-for-44, an even .500 batting average, in his career against Cain. Ethier hasn't homered off Cain, however, and 20 of those hits are singles.
--2B Aaron Miles collected two more hits, his 10th multi-hit game of the season. He's batting .345 (19-for-55) in 15 games this month.
--Jerry Sands stroked an RBI double to give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead in the eighth. Eight of Sands' 15 Major League hits have been two-baggers.
--OF Jay Gibbons was a little woozy after running into the scoreboard in the left-field wall in Monday's game. He didn't start Tuesday's game because manager Don Mattingly is using a mostly straight left-right platoon for left field with Jerry Sands, and the Brewers' starter was LHP Randy Wolf. Gibbons pinch hit in the eighth inning and flew out.
--Kenley Jansen yesterday extended his scoreless innings streak to 8.1 frames over his last eight appearances. In that time, he has held hitters to a .074 average (2-for-27) with 16 strikeouts. His 29 strikeouts in 17.0 frames, leads the NL in strikeouts per 9.0 innings, averaging 15.35.
--SS Rafael Furcal (fractured left thumb) continued his rehab for Triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday with a home run in three at-bats off Padres farmhand Jeremy Hefner. Furcal is batting .385 (5-for-13) with six RBI after four games. The Dodgers wanted to get Furcal 20-30 at-bats. He could get activated by Friday, when the Dodgers open a six-game road trip with an interleague series at the White Sox.\
BY THE NUMBERS: 5
-- Times the Dodgers have won while scoring three runs or fewer.
QUOTE TO NOTE:
"I don't know how you get out of slumps. Sometimes, we don't know how we get into (slumps). It always goes back to the same thing. You are what you eat. If you don't swing at good pitches, your chances go way down. Free swinger or not, you still need to have an understanding of what that guy can do on the mound, have some kind of approach, and get the ball in those areas." -- Manager Don Mattingly, on the challenge for a free swinger like Juan Uribe to get out of his slump. Uribe went 2-for-3 with a walk.
*M*A*S*H* 4077 MEDICAL WATCH
--RHP Vicente Padilla (stiff right forearm) was unavailable May 17. He is day-to-day.
--RHP Blake Hawksworth (strained right groin) was injured May 10, and he didn't pitch May 11-14. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list May 15, retroactive to May 11. The Dodgers are optimistic he will return when eligible.
--LHP Hong-Chih Kuo (anxiety disorder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 10. How long he will be out is a mystery. The exact issues affecting Kuo also are a mystery.
--RHP Jonathan Broxton (bone bruise on right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 4. He is expected to be out until mid-June.
--OF Marcus Thames (strained right quad) went on the 15-day disabled list May 3.
--3B Casey Blake (staph infection in left elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 25. He's expected to be out until June. He began baseball activities May 10.
--SS Rafael Furcal (broken left thumb) went on the 15-day disabled list April 12. He took batting practice May 7, and he began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Albuquerque on May 14. He might return to the Dodgers in late May.
--C Hector Gimenez (sore right knee) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 9. He had arthroscopic surgery April 26, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 13.