Final

Series: Game 1 of 3

LA Dodgers leads 1-0 (as of 9/23)

Game 1: Friday, September 23
LA Dodgers2Final
San Diego0
Game 2: Saturday, September 24
LA Dodgers0Final
San Diego3
Game 3: Sunday, September 25
LA Dodgers6Final
San Diego2

Dodgers 2

(79-77, 37-38 away)

Padres 0

(68-89, 32-44 home)

    10:05 PM ET, September 23, 2011

    Petco Park, San Diego, California 

    123456789 R H E
    LAD 010000100 2 4 0
    SD 000000000 0 4 0

    W: T. Lilly (11-14)

    L: W. LeBlanc (4-6)

    S: J. Guerra (20)

    Matt Kemp closes in on Triple Crown as Dodgers blank Padres

    Associated Press

    SAN DIEGO -- Rather than feeling pressure, Matt Kemp is embracing his Triple Crown pursuit.

    Kemp took another step toward a rare possible Triple Crown with a solo homer as he led the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 2-0 victory over the San Diego Padres on Friday night.

    Kemp went hitless in his first two at-bats before he homered leading off the seventh inning to tie St. Louis' Albert Pujols for the NL lead with 37. Kemp, who leads the league with 119 RBIs, went 1-for-4 to keep his average at .326. He picked up a point on Milwaukee's Ryan Braun, whose average dropped one point to .329 and into a tie with New York's Jose Reyes, who didn't play because of a rainout.

    Kemp, who turned 27 on Friday, was asked if he was aware of his statistics.

    "No, no, I don't," he said deadpan. Then he smiled and added, "I do, I do. It is what it is. It's a fun experience and I'm just going to enjoy it."

    Ted Lilly combined with three relievers on a four-hitter, including rookie closer Javy Guerra, who picked up his 20th save in 21 chances.

    But this night and the Dodgers' final five games belong to Kemp, who is attempting to be the major league's first Triple Crown winner since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

    The last player in the National League to pull off the feat was Ducky Medwick of St. Louis in 1937.

    And if all that isn't enough, Kemp is just three homers shy of becoming only the fifth player in major league history to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in the same season.

    "What we talked about all year long is get ready to play and play," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Don't give at-bats away, keep fighting and at the end of the year there are going to be a pile of numbers there because he focused."

    His 426-foot home run off Wade LeBlanc (4-6) made it 2-0 in the seventh. Kemp had two hits in 15 at-bats against the left-handed LeBlanc before the homer.

    "He's a Triple Crown candidate for a reason," LeBlanc said. "It's a pitch now that I'd like to have back. But he did a good piece of hitting. If you can hit one out to right-center field here, you've earned it."

    Kemp is hitting .552 (16-for-29) during a seven-game hitting streak. During the run he has four homers and nine RBIs.

    "It felt pretty good," Kemp said of the homer. "He is someone you have to be pretty patient with. He mixes his pitches up pretty good."

    Both Mattingly and Kemp spoke about the need for Kemp to continue doing what he has done and not try to change. Kemp said he has resisted the temptation to swing for home runs.

    "I haven't did it the whole season and I'm not going to do it the last five games," Kemp said. "I'm not going to change it up. I just have to relax. When I try to hit home runs and hit too hard, I'm not too successful."

    Said Mattingly: "It's been fine for him all year long, so I don't see making any changes as far as trying to lead him off to try to get him any more at-bats."

    Lilly (11-14) combined with Mike MacDougal, Kenley Jansen and Guerra to hand the Padres their 19th shutout, tops in the majors. Lilly gave up all four hits as he struck out six and walked two.

    Los Angeles picked up its 17th shutout.

    Los Angeles' Eugenio Velez went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts to tie a modern major league record by going hitless in his past 45 at-bats. He tied Pittsburgh's Bill Bergen (1909), Dave Campbell of San Diego and St. Louis (1973) and Milwaukee's Craig Counsell this season.

    "It's a little hard to watch," Mattingly said. "He's such a good kid. He works hard, he's a good teammate and he's not moping around here."

    Lilly is 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA in six starts this season against San Diego. Lilly has allowed three runs or less in each of his past 10 outings.

    LeBlanc allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings as he set a career-high with 10 strikeouts.

    Rookie Jerry Sands extended his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games with a leadoff double in the second before he scored on Russ Mitchell's groundout.

    The Dodgers (79-77) won for the 22nd time in 30 games as they moved two games above .500 for the first time since they were 6-4 on April 11.

    Game notes


    The Dodgers are 12-4 against San Diego. ... Los Angeles started five rookies. ... Dodgers rookie SS Dee Gordon extended his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games. ... LeBlanc became the first Padres pitcher to reach double digits in strikeouts. ... Chad Billingsley (11-10, 4.23 ERA) will start for Los Angeles on Saturday in the second game of the three-game series against Aaron Harang (13-7, 3.82).

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

    SPONSORED HEADLINES

    Game Information

    StadiumPetco Park, San Diego, CA
    Attendance32,658 (76.8% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
    Game Time2:43
    Weather67 degrees, partly cloudy
    Wind8 mph
    UmpiresHome Plate - Angel Hernandez, First Base - Todd Tichenor, Second Base - Gerry Davis, Third Base - Greg Gibson

    Research Notes

    Kenley Jansen struck out all 3 batters he faced for the Dodgers last night, giving him 91 strikeouts in 51 1/3 innings this season. That K per 9 IP of 15.95 is second in MLB history to Carlos Marmol's 15.99 last season among pitchers with at least 50 IP. Jansen has a significantly better WHIP than Marmol (1.05 vs 1.33) and would pass him if he struck out the next batter he faced.
      [+]

    ESPN Stats & Information