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Kemp's go-ahead HR, 4 RBIs boost ASG case

Outfielder leads Dodger comeback to take finale from Rockies
MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- Temporarily interrupted by a 1-for-22 slump, Matt Kemp's All-Star campaign got back on track on Sunday with a tie-breaking home run and four RBIs that powered the Dodgers to a 6-4 win over the Rockies.

VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

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LOS ANGELES -- Temporarily interrupted by a 1-for-22 slump, Matt Kemp's All-Star campaign got back on track on Sunday with a tie-breaking home run and four RBIs that powered the Dodgers to a 6-4 win over the Rockies.

VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

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Kemp brought home a first-inning run with a ground out, doubled home Max Muncy in the third inning, singled home Muncy in the fifth and led off the eighth inning with his 14th home run of the season against Adam Ottavino. Kemp hit 19 home runs last year with Atlanta.

"The last week and a half or two weeks has been a little rough, but that's baseball," said Kemp. "We're off to a good start this month."

Video: COL@LAD: Kemp lines go-ahead solo HR to center in 8th

Everybody but the pitchers homered in June, but in April and May, when the offense wasn't firing on all cylinders, Kemp was. His rebound Sunday was an effective rebuttal to skeptics suggesting his late-June slump was the beginning of a regression to the mean.

After all, nobody expected "Matt Kemp" and "All-Star" to be a thing again. The Dodgers traded for him simply to free up salary. They hoped to flip him, but couldn't find a taker. That was more than the narrative. That was fact.

"There's been a lot of noise since we traded for him, but he's been nothing but professional to stay the course and be productive," said manager Dave Roberts, who said it wasn't until May that he felt Kemp had become comfortable being a Dodger again.

In last week's update of fan balloting for the 2018 MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, Kemp had climbed ahead of Bryce Harper into second among National League outfielders. This would be Kemp's first All-Star appearance since 2012.

Video: COL@LAD: Kemp plates Muncy with an RBI double to left

"It's been a good first half, that's what the All-Star Game is [representing], it's having a good first half," Kemp said. "Those things are fun and good for everybody, but my mindset is getting back to the playoffs where it's really fun and trying to win a championship. That's something I've never done."

Muncy isn't even on the All-Star ballot and he didn't start the season in the Major Leagues, but he's forced his way into the starting second-base job with the kind of offense he showed on Sunday, going 2-for-2 with a pair of walks and a pair of runs scored.

The win snapped a Dodgers three-game losing streak and prevented the Rockies from their first three-game sweep at Dodger Stadium since 2007.

Video: COL@LAD: Stripling knocks down comebacker, starts DP

Dodgers starter Ross Stripling wasn't at his best -- he matched a season high by allowing four runs on nine hits in six innings, including a homer by Nolan Arenado. But it turned into a bullpen game when Rockies starter Chad Bettis left after three innings with the makings of a finger blister.

"You hope Chad's going to be fine, but for us, it was a good thing to get into their 'pen and stretch those guys out a bit," said Roberts.

The victory was credited to reliever Daniel Hudson, who pitched two perfect innings in Saturday's loss and followed with another perfect inning on Sunday, setting up Kenley Jansen's 22nd save.

Video: COL@LAD: Jansen K's LeMahieu to earn his 22nd save

Hudson, signed after he was released by Tampa Bay in late March, is suddenly pitching in high-leverage innings because most of the Dodgers bullpen isn't healthy enough or effective enough to do it. Since June 2, Hudson has allowed only one earned run in 16 innings.

"Daniel's throwing as well as anyone in the 'pen," said Roberts. "Not necessarily the formula, but it's the way to win a baseball game today."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Yasiel Puig's latest Indiana Jones act stole a run for the Dodgers in the eighth inning. Following Puig's hustle double, Joc Pederson's grounder was flagged by diving second baseman DJ LeMahieu and Puig rounded third and stopped. But when LeMahieu remained on his knees and flipped gently to first baseman Ian Desmond, Puig raced for home and beat Desmond's throw for an insurance run.

Video: COL@LAD: Puig races home on infield hit, celebrates

"It was a little crazy for everybody and me too, because not too many players to score from third base in that situation," said Puig. "I made the move, he threw a slow ball and I said in my mind, 'He's not throwing, I'm going to go home and he's not going to throw me out.' And that's the reactions coming down like that."

"Yasiel caught those guys sleeping a little bit," said Roberts.

Said LeMahieu: "There's probably two guys in the league that are going to take a chance like that, and he's one of them. I had my eyes on him, saw him dancing out to third and said, 'All right, I'll get it to Des, and he just had a really good read on it."

HE SAID IT
"I wasn't sharp early. Kind of found it as I went." -- Stripling

UP NEXT
Alex Wood and the Dodgers open a series against Pittsburgh and Nick Kingham in a 7:10 p.m. Monday start. Wood's most recent start should be judged more by the seven innings he pitched than the three runs he allowed, two on a Cubs' Willson Contreras home run off a good pitch at his ankles. Wood has ironed out his mechanics and won his last three starts.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Matt Kemp