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STL@LAD: Kemp powers a walk-off shot in the ninth

LOS ANGELES -- It looked like the hard-luck Dodgers were on their way to another disappointing result against the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium on Sunday.

Closer Jonathan Broxton gave up a two-out double to Matt Holliday in the ninth inning, and two batters later David Freese drove him home with a single to left to give the Cardinals the game's first run.

But thanks to a lunging catch by second baseman Aaron Miles, Broxton escaped the ninth without further damage. Then, against left-hander Trever Miller, Andre Ethier extended his Major League leading hitting streak to 14 games with a double down the right-field line, breathing life into what had been an anemic Dodgers offense.

In came Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin to face Matt Kemp. Despite the fact that Kemp took Franklin deep on Thursday, St. Louis elected to pitch to the league's leading hitter (.474) with first base open and slumping Juan Uribe (.154) and James Loney (.150) due up. That decision burned the Cardinals, as Kemp drilled a two-strike sinker over the center-field fence to give the Dodgers a 2-1 victory Sunday.

The win snapped a five-game skid for the Dodgers, who got eight shutout innings and 11 strikeouts from starter Chad Billingsley against the hottest lineup in baseball, and handed the Cardinals their first loss in five games.

"It's one way to turn the page," Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly said. "If you start thinking about the play Aaron Miles makes in the ninth, that catch. [Chad] Billingsley all day long kept us in the game -- gave us a chance.

"... You talk about getting that rock rolling in a different direction. It's got to start somewhere, and that's a pretty good start right there."

If Kemp had originally gotten his way, though, there would not have been any postgame talk about his walk-off shot. Before his at-bat in the ninth, Kemp suggested to Mattingly that he attempt to sacrifice Ethier over to third to set up the tying run.

Mattingly told his center fielder to swing.

"As good as he's been going, I can't even think about letting him try to [bunt]," Mattingly said. "It's great because it's a team thing. He was willing to get that guy over and let somebody drive in the run. But the way he's going, you've got to let him swing the bat."

Said Kemp: "I was just trying to tie the game up. Do whatever it takes to help the team at least go into extra innings or help us win the game. I asked him to bunt and he said, 'Nah, drive him in.' And that's just what I did."

Kemp's home run made sure Billingsley's gem didn't go to waste. The right-hander gave up only two hits, and his 11 K's marked the seventh time of his career that he's eclipsed 10 in a game.

Each one of his eight scoreless innings were essential, as the Dodgers were unable to muster any offense against St. Louis ace Chris Carpenter, who tossed seven brilliant innings of his own.

"Chris was throwing up zeros, too," said Billingsley, who was responsible for holding the Cardinals to their lowest offensive outing since April 9. "Just try to stay with him and try not to make too many mistakes and have quick innings."

Billingsley ran into trouble in the eighth when Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina hit a routine fly ball to shallow right field toward a charging Ethier. But Ethier lost the ball in the afternoon sun and it dropped for a two-base error.

Molina advanced to third on a bunt by Daniel Descalso to set the Cardinals up with their best scoring opportunity since Holliday, who went 3-for-3 with a walk, led off the second with an opposite-field double.

But just like he had done in the previous inning, Chad Billingsley quickly regrouped and wiggled his way out of the jam.

Pinch-hitter Jon Jay struck out swinging and Ryan Theriot lined out to Ethier to end the inning.

"He did everything well," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "Billingsley went to both sides of the plate, changed speeds, kept the ball out of the middle. Just excellent pitching." Comments