If they want to have any chance of claiming the NL's second wild card, they'll need more performances from him like his last.
Kemp and the Dodgers close a tough nine-game road trip Thursday night with the finale of a three-game series against the San Diego Padres .
With seven games remaining, Los Angeles is tied with Milwaukee, 3 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the league's last playoff spot.
The Dodgers (80-75) improved to 4-4 on their road trip with an 8-2 win Wednesday. Matt Kemp had four hits and drove in four runs - both matching season highs - while falling a triple shy of the cycle and Aaron Harang gave up four hits in 5 1-3 scoreless innings."It just feels good to get a win," Kemp said. "That's all that really matters. Right now we have to win out to at least give us a chance to make the playoffs. We can't worry who's in front of us. We just have to play our game and see where we're at at the end."
Kemp's big night led a rare offensive outburst for Los Angeles, which had lost 12 of its previous 18 while scoring more than three runs in only four of those contests. Kemp's struggles contributed to that slide - he was hitting .167 (11 of 66) with 20 strikeouts over his previous 16 games.
Although Kemp was 1 for his previous 18 against San Diego entering Wednesday, he's still batting .407 (24 for 59) with seven homers and 19 RBIs in 14 games against Los Angeles' NL West rival this year, including 11 for 26 with three homers and 12 RBIs in six games at Petco Park.
Closing a road swing that included series against East-leading Washington and Central champion Cincinnati - clubs which have already clinched postseason berths - Los Angeles hands the ball to Chris Capuano (11-11, 3.74 ERA), who hasn't been much help in the Dodgers' playoff race.
Capuano has a seven-start winless streak, going 0-3 with a 6.13 ERA. He gave up four runs in five innings of a 4-1 loss at Washington last Thursday, the fourth time during that span he failed to pitch beyond the fifth inning.
"I felt good, I felt strong," Capuano told the Dodgers' official website. "I just kind of made a couple of mistakes with runners on base tonight."
The left-hander is 0-2 with a 3.57 ERA in three starts against the Padres this year, including a loss July 15 in which he allowed four unearned runs over 6 2-3 innings of a 7-2 defeat. Capuano is 0-3 with a 6.53 ERA in four career starts at Petco.
The Padres (74-81), who came in having lost only one of their previous 10 home series, will hand the ball to Casey Kelly (2-2, 5.55) in his first appearance against the Dodgers.
Kelly gave up two runs and seven hits and issued four walks over 4 1-3 innings of a 5-1 loss at San Francisco last Friday."It was uncharacteristic of Chris to walk so many," manager Bud Black said. "They came back to get him. The ball-strike ratio wasn't very good. His pitches were around the zone. He wasn't wild but couldn't hit his spot. That came back to haunt him."
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|September 15, 2012||Clayton Kershaw||Day-to-Day||Torn labrum, right hip|
|September 09, 2012||Clayton Kershaw||Day-to-Day||Sore hip|
|September 08, 2012||Adam Kennedy||60-Day DL||Strained right groin|
|September 08, 2012||Matt Kemp||Day-to-Day||Left shoulder strain|
|September 08, 2012||Adam Kennedy||Day-to-Day||Strained right groin|
|September 03, 2012||Javy Guerra||15-Day DL||Left oblique strain|
|San Diego Padres|
|September 20, 2012||Carlos Quentin||Day-to-Day||Sore right knee|
|September 11, 2012||Carlos Quentin||Day-to-Day||Sore right knee|
|August 23, 2012||Jason Marquis||15-Day DL||Fractured left wrist|
|August 17, 2012||Nick Hundley||Day-to-Day||Bruised right knee|
|August 16, 2012||Nick Hundley||60-Day DL||Bruised right knee|
|August 11, 2012||Huston Street||15-Day DL||Strained left calf|
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Matt Kemp and the Dodgers know they have virtually no margin for error.
Chris Capuano won for the first time in eight starts and Los Angeles inched closer in the wild-card race, beating the San Diego Padres 8-4 on Thursday night.
Luis Cruz hit a two-run single to help the Dodgers pull within three games of idle St. Louis for the final NL playoff spot. Both teams have six games remaining.
"There's not much else to say about it other than we just have to win and hope we get some help," Kemp said.
The Dodgers open a six-game homestand Friday night with Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw on the mound against last-place Colorado. The Cardinals start a three-game series at home against NL East-leading Washington.
"We have to win every day," Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly said. "Our only chance is to put pressure on St. Louis and make them win every day."
Capuano (12-11) carried a 6-0 lead into the sixth. The left-hander allowed one run and five hits in 5 1-3 innings for his first win since Aug. 12 at Miami.
Cruz had three hits, including his key single in the fifth as Los Angeles scored four runs with two outs to go ahead 5-0.
The Dodgers had 14 hits for the second straight game. Before that, the struggling offense managed more than three runs in only four of 19 games.
"We've been better," Mattingly said. "We've got some big hits and not just from the big guys. This is really more what you kind of expect."
Kemp was 2 for 5 with an RBI to finish the season hitting .406 (26 for 64) with seven homers and 20 RBIs in 15 games against the Padres.
Los Angeles is 29-4 when Kemp has a multihit game this year.
"We're still breathing," catcher A.J. Ellis said. "All we can do is go out and basically try to run the table. That's what we are trying to do. We go (Friday) night and have Kershaw on the mound and I like our chances."
Rookie starter Casey Kelly (2-3) gave up five runs and six hits in 4 2-3 innings. The right-hander struck out six, walked two and hit two batters with pitches.
The loss assured San Diego (74-82) of its fourth losing record in the last five seasons. The Padres have had 13 winning seasons in their 44-year history.
"Obviously, everything is a learning experience," Kelly said. "You take some bumps in the road. I thought I threw the ball better, but had the same problems with command in that one inning."
Ellis' RBI single in the fourth put the Dodgers ahead before they struck for four runs in the fifth.
With two outs, Kemp doubled and Adrian Gonzalez was intentionally walked. Kelly then hit Handley Ramirez and Shane Victorino with pitches to force in a run.
"It's definitely frustrating when I didn't make the pitches in those two at-bats," Kelly said. "Ahead in the count and hitting those guys, it made it a different ballgame."
Nick Vincent replaced Kelly and gave up Cruz's two-run single followed by Ellis' RBI single. Vincent struck out Capuano to end the inning.
Capuano walked Chase Headley to open the sixth and allowed Yasmani Grandal 's single before throwing a wild pitch. After getting an out, Capuano was lifted for Paco Rodriguez , who got the second out before giving up Everth Cabrera 's infield single to load the bases.
Jamey Wright relieved and plunked pinch-hitter Carlos Quentin with a pitch to bring in a run.
San Diego scored three runs in the eighth off Ronald Belisario on pinch-hitter Mark Kotsay 's two-run double and an RBI single by pinch-hitter Will Venable to cut the lead to 7-4.
The Dodgers finished 41-40 on the road, their third winning record away from Dodger Stadium in the last 10 seasons.
NOTES: Capuano pitched past the fifth inning for the fourth time in his last eight starts. ... The Dodgers finished 11-7 this season against San Diego. ... Padres 2B Logan Forsythe was scratched from the lineup with a sore right knee. ... Yonder Alonso had three hits for the Padres, including a pair of doubles to run his season total to 37. It was his 10th game with at least two doubles, the most for any major leaguer since 2006 when Pittsburgh's Freddy Sanchez also had 10. ... Giants RHP Ryan Vogelsong (13-9, 5.38) opposes Padres LHP Andrew Werner (2-2, 4.64) on Friday night at Petco Park in the opener of a three-game set.