Despite sitting in last place in the NL East and well off the pace in the wild card race, the Philadelphia Phillies remain optimistic.
Their situation wouldn't be so dire if they could figure out a way to win behind Cliff Lee .
In what would figure to be a low-scoring affair with Lee and Clayton Kershaw squaring off at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday, the Phillies try to win their fifth in a row, complete a three-game sweep and send sputtering Los Angeles to its eighth defeat in nine games.
Following the returns of sluggers Chase Utley and Ryan Howard , Roy Halladay became the last key Phillie to be activated from the disabled list when he took the ball Tuesday. He allowed two runs over five innings and Philadelphia (41-51) rallied for a 3-2 win, its fourth straight.
The modest winning streak following a 1-11 stretch has suddenly renewed hope that a sixth straight playoff berth is still possible with Utley, Howard and Halladay all healthy. The reality, though, is the Phillies are 13 games behind division-leading Washington and 9 1/2 back of the NL's second wild-card spot.
"Every one of these game has been a playoff game - that's the mentality we have to take at this point," said Hunter Pence , who had a tiebreaking, two-run single with two outs in the eighth inning Tuesday.
Despite a month-long tailspin, the Dodgers (48-44) are significantly closer than the Phillies to making the playoffs. They've lost seven of eight to drop a season-high three games behind NL West-leading San Francisco, and are a major league-worst 6-19 since June 19.
"We're just trying to get through this forest and see the light at the end," catcher A.J. Ellis said. "You can't dwell on the losses, just focus on the next day and have confidence and faith that the next day is going to start a winning streak."
Los Angeles, loser of seven straight home games to Philadelphia, has totaled two runs and seven hits during the last three losses of its overall four-game skid. The Dodgers could be in store for more difficulty Wednesday against Lee (1-6, 3.92 ERA), but little seems to go right for the Phillies when he's on the mound.
Lee allowed three runs and nine hits in six innings against Colorado on Friday but suffered a 6-2 loss, as the Phillies dropped to 4-11 when he pitches. It marked his ninth quality start with only one win to show for it. The left-hander has been backed by 16 total runs of support in the other eight games.
He pitched well against the Dodgers on June 5, yielding two runs and six hits while striking out a season-high 12 over 7 2-3 innings, but was saddled with a 2-1 loss. The 2008 AL Cy Young award winner has been highly effective in four career starts versus Los Angeles, posting a 0.90 ERA that is his second-lowest against any opponent.
Like his counterpart, Kershaw (7-5, 2.84) has also managed to shut down some of the top hitters on the opposition. The reigning NL Cy Young winner has limited Pence to one single in 15 at-bats and Howard to a pair of doubles in 11 at-bats.
In spite of his success facing those individual hitters, Kershaw is 0-4 with a 4.95 ERA in seven career starts against the Phillies. In Philadelphia on June 4, the left-hander allowed three runs and eight hits in seven innings of the Dodgers' 4-3 victory.
Los Angeles hasn't won since Kershaw gave up one run in six innings of Friday's 2-1 victory over San Diego. It marked the fourth time in five starts he permitted two earned runs or fewer.
|Tony Gwynn Jr.||7||.286||2||0||0||0||3||.286||.572||.286|
|Jerry Hairston Jr.||19||.105||2||1||2||1||2||.143||.406||.263|
|July 13, 2012||Raul Valdes||15-Day DL||Strained right hip|
|June 25, 2012||Brian Schneider||15-Day DL||Sprained right ankle - out 3-5 weeks|
|June 07, 2012||Freddy Galvis||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|June 05, 2012||Placido Polanco||Day-to-Day||Left game - left index finger laceration|
|June 02, 2012||Jose Contreras||60-Day DL||Torn UCL, right elbow - out for season|
|May 28, 2012||Roy Halladay||15-Day DL||Right latissimus dorsi strain|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|July 08, 2012||Chad Billingsley||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|July 05, 2012||Dee Gordon||15-Day DL||Right thumb UCL tear|
|July 04, 2012||Dee Gordon||Day-to-Day||Left game - Dislocated right thumb|
|July 03, 2012||Todd Coffey||15-Day DL||Right elbow soreness|
|June 28, 2012||Andre Ethier||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|June 28, 2012||Andre Ethier||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The game began with an intense pitcher's duel between Cy Young Award-winning left-handers Clayton Kershaw and Cliff Lee . That lasted for eight innings. It ended four innings later with slugger Matt Kemp doing what he does best.
Kemp hit a two-run homer in the 12th, giving the Los Angeles Dodgers a 5-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday.
Rookie left-hander Jake Diekman (2-0) walked Mark Ellis with one out and Kemp drove a 1-0 pitch the other way into the pavilion seats in right-center for his 13th home run and sixth career walkoff homer, capping the 4-hour, 25-minute marathon.
"I was struggling all day, I had to do something, man," Kemp said. "I think we were all getting a little frustrated and a little tired, but we fought until the end. We got the `W' and that's all that matters. It feels good to hit that home run. That's the hardest ball I've hit since I've been back (from the disabled list). I feel really good. My legs are getting under me."
Jamey Wright (4-2), the sixth Dodgers pitcher, worked one inning for the victory as the Dodgers ended a four-game losing streak.
Hunter Pence hit a two-run single in the 10th with the bases loaded to give Philadelphia a 3-1 lead. But the Dodgers responded with two runs in the bottom half against closer Jonathan Papelbon , whose blown save was his third in 24 opportunities.
Pinch-hitter and former Phillie Bobby Abreu had an RBI single and scored the tying run when Kemp beat out an infield single to deep shortstop with two outs and runners at the corners. The rally also included a dribbler to the left of the mound by Tony Gwynn Jr. that Papelbon couldn't make a play on.
"It's tough. It's one of those outings where you really can't do very much about it," Papelbon said. "I feel like I made the pitches I wanted to make. But there were swinging bunts and bloop hits and stuff like that. It's just part of the game. But we've got to stay positive and, look at the bigger picture, and realize that we came out of the All-Star break taking two series on the road. This was the kind of start that we needed."
Dodgers reliever Javy Guerra walked three in the 10th, including an intentional pass to Chase Utley . Pence hit the right-hander's 1-0 pitch to left field to drive in two.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel used four relievers in the ninth, including Michael Schwimer , who escaped a bases-loaded jam by striking out pinch-hitter James Loney on a pitch in the dirt.
"Our pitching is the reason why we've been doing so well lately," Pence said. "We won the first two games despite scoring only three runs in each game, and we almost won this game with three runs. That's a credit to our pitchers. You've even got to tip your cap to Papelbon. He's thrown a lot of pitches going three days in a row, so he's a warrior. But they found a way to battle, and you've got to give them some credit."
Less than 24 hours after the Phillies won 3-2 on a bases-loaded two-run single by Pence in the eighth inning against Kenley Jansen , they loaded the bases again against the Dodgers' closer in the ninth. But he escaped this time when Jason Pridie flied out as a pinch-hitter for Lee.
It was the ninth no-decision for Lee, and the seventh to go extra innings. The three-time All-Star allowed a run and two hits - the eighth time in 16 starts that he yielded fewer than three earned runs.
"Not once this year have I said anything about being frustrated," Lee said. "I can only control what I can control, and that's to make pitches, get as deep into the game as I can and try to give the team a chance to win. I would have loved to win this game, but it's over now and there's nothing you can do about it. I thought I pitched a good game. I made a mistake to Rivera in the second and he hit a home run, but otherwise, things went really well."
Lee's only victory was on July 4, when he beat the Mets 9-2 at New York. In his other start this season against the Dodgers, he retired 21 of his first 24 batters and took a shutout into the eighth before giving up a two-run double to Elian Herrera in a 2-1 loss at Philadelphia.
The 2008 AL Cy Young winner retired 15 of his first 16 batters in the rematch and threw 56 of his 89 pitches over the first five innings. His biggest out came in the sixth, when he struck out Kemp with two men on.
Kershaw allowed a run and five hits, struck out seven and walked none. It was the 13th time in 20 starts this season that he allowed fewer than three earned runs, and he is 6-3 in those games.
"For the most part, I was able to throw strikes and just kind of make them beat me," Kershaw said. "We needed a win, so we'll take them any way we can get them right now. We battled all the way through and Matty came up huge again. But the big inning was getting to Papelbon and getting back in the game. That's the sign of a good team."
Juan Rivera , starting at first base for the Dodgers instead of Loney with a lefty starting, opened the scoring in the second inning with his fourth homer.
NOTES: Guerra was reinstated from the bereavement list after visiting his ailing father, who had a heart attack last Friday night. RHP Stephen Fife , who allowed a run over six innings Tuesday night and got a no-decision in his major league debut, was optioned back to Triple-A Albuquerque. ... Rivera is 7-for-30 against Lee with four homers. ... The crowd of 39,955 pushed the Dodgers' home attendance total past the 2-million mark in 49 home dates - six fewer than last season.