LOS ANGELES -- On Monday night, Dodger Stadium showered Matt Kemp with chants of "M-V-P!" as the Los Angeles outfielder put together one of the best performances of his career. Kemp matched a career-high with five hits, including a three-run homer, helping the Dodgers to a 17-1 victory over the
LOS ANGELES -- On Monday night, Dodger Stadium showered Matt Kemp with chants of "M-V-P!" as the Los Angeles outfielder put together one of the best performances of his career. Kemp matched a career-high with five hits, including a three-run homer, helping the Dodgers to a 17-1 victory over the Pirates.
Earlier in the day, Kemp was positioned second among National League outfielders when ballot results for the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard were released. His latest showing all but assured he will represent his club in Washington, which would be his third career appearance in a Midsummer Classic.
"[Kemp's] been a big part of our lineup in the middle of it," said Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner. "He knows how to drive in runs and that's what you've been seeing the last couple of nights. He's an RBI machine."
• Facts from Dodgers' 21-hit, 17-run performance
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said that Kemp's performance was reminiscent of the 33-year-old's form in 2011, when he finished second place in NL MVP voting.
"Staying in the big part of the field, driving in runs, swinging at strikes, staying off balls -- it was a clinic tonight," Roberts said. "Everyone sort of fed off what he did at the plate. Up and down the lineup, very impressive, but obviously, the centerpiece was Matt."
Said Kemp of his performance: "Felt good. Take that into tomorrow and we'll try again."
However, it wasn't only Kemp whose hot bat catapulted the Dodgers to such a huge lead. Los Angeles' order batted around in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, marking the first time the club had ever done so in three consecutive frames. It was the first time it had happened in MLB since the Yankees did it against the A's on Aug. 25, 2011.
The Dodgers best capitalized during the fourth, when they posted a six-spot -- highlighted by back-to-back jacks by Joc Pederson and Player Page for Max Muncy -- to take a commanding nine-run lead.
The Dodgers chased Pittsburgh starter Nick Kingham (2-4) after three-plus innings. They tallied seven runs (five earned) on eight hits and three walks against Kingham, whom the Pirates had recalled from Triple-A ahead of Monday's contest to fill in for Chad Kuhl, who was placed on the disabled list Friday.
Already ahead by three runs, Pederson and Muncy's solo homers marked the eighth time this season the Dodgers have hit back-to-back shots. Turner followed with a double, chasing Kingham from the game to bring on right-hander Tanner Anderson, a rookie making his Major League debut.
The Dodgers welcomed him less than warmly. Cody Bellinger grounded out to advance Turner to third, and Kemp laced a single into right to score Turner. Yasmani Grandal followed with a double, setting up an RBI single by Chris Taylor. Yasiel Puig added to the stretch with an RBI double the ensuing at-bat. By the time Anderson got out of the frame, Los Angeles had built a nine-run lead.
"It's fun when they have nights like this," Turner said.
Kingham credited the Dodgers' dangerous lineup for taking comfortable at-bats when he fell behind in counts.
"They hit the good pitches," he said. "They didn't swing at the balls off the plate. They did what they were supposed to do with the pitches that I threw over the middle of the plate and just made me pay for it."
The Dodgers scored three more runs during the fifth. In the sixth, Kemp launched his 15th home run of the season, and Puig doubled in another run, giving Los Angeles a 16-run advantage. Roberts had the luxury of removing Kemp and Turner from the game before the seventh inning began.
"Doesn't happen very often, for our club to get guys off their feet, get other guys at-bats," Roberts said. "It was good all the way around. To get a lopsided game like this where you pitch well and score runs, doesn't happen very often."
As Los Angeles' offense collected a season-high 21 hits, starting pitcher Alex Wood (5-5) cruised on the mound. The left-hander notched a quality start behind six innings of one-run ball, scattering six hits, striking out three batters and walking none.
Wood has now earned a winning decision in each of his past four starts. It's something the left-hander said felt nice considering he won once through his first 13 appearances this season. Pitching behind a 16-run lead Monday also provided him an added level of comfort.
"That's a lot of runs," he said. "Any time you get that, you're happy."
After smashing a franchise single-month record 55 home runs in June, it appears the Dodgers are still in the midst of their power surge. They improved to 45-39 this season, pulling to 1 1/2 games behind the first-place D-backs in the NL West.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Following the Wild Horse's lead: After hustling to third on a Kemp single, Bellinger took a page out of teammate Puig's handbook during the next at-bat. When Pirates catcher Elias Diaz threw the ball back to Kingham, the ball popped out of the pitcher's mitt and towards first base. Bellinger dashed home, standing up as he crossed the plate to give the Dodgers a two-run lead in a heads-up play reminiscent of Puig's sprint home against the Rockies on Sunday.
Puig's hustle scratched across a run in the third inning. With the bases loaded, the right fielder couldn't drive the ball out of the infield. However, he avoided an inning-ending double play by beating throw to first, scoring Kemp to give Los Angeles a 4-1 lead.
Kemp's sixth-inning homer marked his eighth straight at-bat with a hit.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
In the top of the fourth inning, Puig made a sensational on-the-run catch in foul territory. Gregory Polanco lifted an 0-1 fastball into the air down the right-field line that began to carry out of play. Puig raced to track it down, leaping over the short wall to snag the ball and record the out.
"Any time the ball goes up over there I expect it to be caught," Wood said of the play. "He always plays hard out there for me. His talent defensively is special."
HE SAID IT
"A 16-run save? I didn't know that was a thing." -- Wood, on Caleb Ferguson's three-inning save on his 22nd birthday
"Good luck. We'll see how it goes. Like I said, sleep on it and then try and come out here and get a lot of runs for Kershaw." -- Kemp, on potentially tying the Dodgers' franchise record with hits in 12 straight at-bats
Clayton Kershaw (1-4, 2.84 ERA) will start for the Dodgers in the second game of their three-game set against the Pirates at Dodger Stadium. The outing is Kershaw's third since being activated from the disabled list. Pittsburgh will counter with right-hander Ivan Nova. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. PT.
Kaelen Jones is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.