LOS ANGELES — It isn’t the first time Matt Kemp’s heroics have won a game at Dodger Stadium. But it might be the last.
At 35, the former Dodgers hero is playing out his twilight season as a part-time DH and pinch hitter for the Colorado Rockies, rescued from unemployment only by MLB’s decision to make the DH a part of this pandemic season in both leagues.
But Kemp scooped a cutter down and in from Dodgers reliever Caleb Ferguson and golfed it over the left field wall for a two-run home run in the eighth inning Sunday night. It was the 285th home run of Kemp’s career (203 hit for the Dodgers, three hit against them) and gave the Rockies a 7-6 victory over the Dodgers.
The Dodgers came from behind in three of the first six innings Sunday, hitting four home runs — two by Corey Seager — but stranded the tying and go-ahead runners on base in the ninth inning.
With the win, the Rockies took two out of three from the Dodgers in the weekend series, handing them their first back-to-back losses in nearly a month (August 10-11) and winning a series against the NL West’s reigning power for the first time since August 2018.
It is also the first series this season the Dodgers have lost. They are the last team in MLB this season to lose a series, going 13 series (10 victories and three splits) to start the year without losing one.
The Dodgers found themselves trailing for the first time after Julio Urias gave up a two-run home run to Josh Fuentes in the second inning. Will Smith added a solo home run in the second inning to Seager’s first homer in the first inning to match that.
The Rockies took another lead in the fifth inning on RBI singles by Raimel Tapia and Nolan Arenado.
Urias failed to follow up on his strongest start of the season on Tuesday when he allowed just one run on four hits and no walks in six innings.
This time, he didn’t make it through five innings, allowing four runs on five hits and two walks.
Seager made that 4-2 lead go away with his second home run of the game, a two-run belt into the right-field pavilion. Seager crushed the first-pitch fastball from Rockies starter Ryan Castellani, ripping it at 111.3 mph off the bat.
The Rockies took the lead for the third time off Dodgers reliever Dylan Floro in the sixth. Floro walked Kevin Pillar to start the inning. Pillar scored when Jake McGee replaced Floro and gave up a triple to the center field wall by Garrett Hampson.
Chris Taylor made that go away with a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth and the Dodgers protected their 6-5 lead into the eighth inning.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts handed the ball to Ferguson for the eighth, a sound decision before the start of September. In 15 appearances before then, Ferguson had 20 strikeouts and only seven hits allowed (one home run) in 14 1/3 innings.
But Ferguson has not been good lately and his struggles continued against the Rockies. He gave up a leadoff single to Pillar and the two-run home run Kemp — the third consecutive game Ferguson has been touched for a home run. Over his three appearances this month, Ferguson has faced 15 batters and retired only six of them, giving up eight hits (including those three home runs) and a walk.
The feel-good stories in the Dodgers’ bullpen haven’t felt as good recently. Dodgers relievers have given up at least one run in each of the past nine games (more than one in six of those), piling up a 4.89 ERA and 1.60 WHIP in that time.