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Kemp Powers Dodgers Past D-Backs in Bonus Time

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Neither the Dodgers’ nor the Arizona Diamondbacks’ offense could muster anything beyond a single for nine innings. But with one swing of the bat, Matt Kemp got the game’s only extra-base hit - a walk-off homer in the bottom of the tenth inning off of reliever Juan Gutierrez for the Dodgers’ 1-0 win.

“It was a great feeling, my first home run walk-off,” Kemp said. “Now I know how [Andre Ethier] feels when he hits all these home run walk-offs. It’s pretty exciting to do it for once in my life.”

Despite the excitement the team heeded manager Joe Torre’s message of being careful to avoid injury in the case of a walk-off. The team made sure not to completely pummel the shit out of Kemp.

“We were careful because of recent incidents,” catcher Russell Martin said.

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It looked for a while that the only big pummeling would have occurred in the seventh inning after Martin slid hard to second base getting his cleats caught on shortstop Stephen Drew’s foot to break up the double play on pinch hitter Garret Anderson’s weak grounder which cleared the benches and the bullpens for a confrontation at second base.

“It was just a hard slide,” Martin commented. “Looking at the replay I kind of slid through the bag a little bit. I caught [Drew’s] foot. He didn’t like that. He just expressed his disagreement. I just told him I’m playing the game hard. There was nothing personal there.”

Torre jokingly was looking for a fighting partner.

“I was trying to pick which guy on the other team I was going to fight,” Torre joked. “I was looking around I finally settled on [D-Backs’ first-base coach] Matt Williams.”

Dodgers’ starter John Ely was trying to figure out what was going on.

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“I was coming off the field, I got a tap on the butt saying here we go,” Ely said. “That’s my first in the big league. It seemed like it was under control pretty well, but you’ve got to make an appearance out there.”

Despite that, both Ely and his D-Backs’ counterpart Dan Haren pitched magnificent games. Ely went seven innings giving up only two singles and two walks.

“He has really infused us with energy,” Torre said. “He doesn’t really care who he is pitching against because he challenges everybody.”

“He had his command,” Martin remarked about Ely’s night. “When he has command of all four pitches, he’s a tough at-bat. Nobody really seemed to square the ball up on him.”

“That’s what I try to accomplish every single time out,” Ely said about mastering his command. “Tonight we did a pretty good job of it. The results speak for themselves.”

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The lack of run support didn’t frustrate Ely at all.

“I’m happy I was able to keep us in the game, and we ended up winning,” Ely said. “There’s really nothing for me to be upset about.”

Ronald Belisario, Hong-Chih Kuo and Jeff Weaver, who earned his third win of the season, combined for three innings of scoreless relief.

It’s a stark contrast to the lack of trust D-Backs’ manager AJ Hinch has in his bullpen who had Haren make a season-high 126 pitches in eight innings of work yielding seven singles.

“Haren was a bulldog out there tonight,” Torre remarked. “We’ve had some pretty good success against him. But tonight he wasn’t having any of that.”

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“He was mixing his pitches up well,” Kemp said. “He did a good job - he threw strikes and he moved the ball around tonight. He did his job.”

While Manny Ramirez’s defense is usually an antidote for upside-down smiles, he showed he has the capability to play defense when he jumped up on the left field wall and robbed Stephen Drew of an extra-base hit to lead off the fourth inning.

The comedy was reserved for Ely’s bunt attempts. It was very evident that Ely came from the American League with the Chicago White Sox organization because he struck out on three pitches outside the strike zone in the third inning when trying to bunt Jamey Carroll to second base.

“I’m getting there,” Ely said about his bunting technique. “I don’t mind getting my nose in there. I have trouble reading pitches - I haven’t been exposed to that all that often. I know I can get the job done if I have to. I’m working on it.”

However to give Ely some credit, he did lay down a successful sacrifice in the fifth inning that got Carroll over to second.