LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Scott Van Slyke became the fourth Dodgers player to match Matt Kemp’s season total for home runs since the two-time All-Star slugger hit his first of the year April 24 in New York. That’s still the only one Kemp has after 137 at-bats.
Kemp had two singles for Los Angeles on Sunday in a 5-3 victory over the Miami Marlins, giving him 1,000 career hits and extending his hitting streak to 11 games. But manager Don Mattingly insists it’s only a matter of time before the homers come in bunches for Kemp, who hit a career-high 39 in 2011.
“I feel like he’s still going to hit his homers,” Mattingly said. “They’re going to come, but when you’re forcing them, they don’t seem to come. That’s the one thing I don’t want him to do — try to force home runs. When he’s having good swings and starts to get his hits, the power is right there with it.”
Dodgers starter Chris Capuano (1-2) allowed a run and five hits in 6 1-3 innings with seven strikeouts and one walk. Last Monday, in his second start of the season and first off the disabled list, the left-hander gave up six runs over four innings against Arizona and threw a mini-tantrum in the dugout after being taken out.
“It’s been a bit of a nightmare the past week. It’s nice to wake up from it,” Capuano said. “I was trying to watch some of the good games I had last year, look at what I did to be successful and try to stick with my strengths instead of worrying about getting to the hitters’ weaknesses. I think it’s a good approach with any lineup, not trying to get too caught up in a hitter’s weaknesses. I had a pretty good changeup working today. And with the humidity and the moisture, I had that pitch working.”
Capuano started against the Marlins for the first time since last Aug. 12, when he threw eight innings of two-hit ball in a 5-0 win at Miami.
“The last time I remember him being a little more fastball-friendly, to be honest. Today he just kind of off-speeded us to death and did a good job mixing his pitches,” said Marlins center fielder Justin Ruggiano, who homered off Capuano in the sixth. “We swung at a lot of pitches we shouldn’t have been swinging at, so that shows you that they were pretty good off-speed pitches. But we’ve got to take some of the blame for that, too, because we’ve got to get the ball up on him.”
Brandon League finished in a non-save situation, giving up a two-run double by Adeiny Hechavarria with two outs in the ninth after allowing a game-deciding home run in each of his previous two appearances.
The Dodgers, who ended an eight-game slide Saturday night with a 7-1 victory, took two of three in the series. This is the first time they’ve won consecutive games against the same team since April 10-11 at San Diego. Los Angeles remains last in the NL West with a 15-21 record and trails division-leading San Francisco by seven games.
“Well, that’s two,” Mattingly said. “Once you’ve lost eight in a row, it doesn’t sound like much to win a series. But it’s a start. That’s the way it feels.”
Van Slyke, recalled from Triple-A on Friday, opened the scoring against rookie Tom Koehler (0-1) with his third big league homer leading off the second.
“That home run was off a guy I’d actually faced a lot the last two to three years (in the minors),” Koehler said. “He kind of sped up his bat with a cutter right there and he did a good job of staying on it. But the first run’s not the one that kills you, so the key there is basically making sure that’s the only one. And that team, with all the veterans they have, if you let them start building momentum, they can put up a crooked number real quick.”
Koehler threw 79 pitches over five innings in his second big league start and first this season, allowing two runs and seven hits. The 26-year-old right-hander was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans on April 19 and made six relief appearances before replacing a struggling Wade LeBlanc in the rotation.
Koehler faced a lineup loaded with left-handed hitters except for Kemp, Van Slyke and Tim Federowicz, who were a combined 4 for 7 against him. During his stint in the bullpen, righties were 1 for 23.
“I don’t feel much different than if I would have been starting consistently. So I guess that’s a good sign, and now I can build off it,” Koehler said.
After Nick Punto’s sacrifice fly gave Los Angeles a 2-0 lead in the fourth, Ruggiano got the Marlins on the board in the sixth with his seventh homer — all on the road.
The Dodgers extended the margin to 5-1 during a three-run seventh, as Mike Dunn gave up RBI singles to Van Slyke and Carl Crawford and a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Andre Ethier that followed an intentional walk to Kemp. The first two runs in the inning were charged to Jon Rauch.
The last time the Dodgers suffered an eight game losing streak was in 2008.
It was followed by an eight game winning streak.
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