Matt Kamlet, CBSLA.com
CHAVEZ RAVINE (CBSLA.com) — The Giants woke up in Los Angeles on Tuesday with fresh bruises, marked on Monday by the bat of rookie Yasiel Puig.
The Dodgers, on the other hand, came into Dodger Stadium on Tuesday with a kick in their step, looking a way they haven’t looked since opening weekend — healthy.
The club activated center fielder Matt Kemp from the DL, marking the healthiest the Dodgers have looked in months.
Kemp went 1-for-4 and scored a run in his return as the Dodgers survived a near-blown save from Brandon League to beat the Giants 6-5.
The Dodgers have now won four in a row — their longest win streak of the season.
On the mound, it was a battle of rookies.
San Francisco recalled left-hander Mike Kickham for his second major league game, after earning a loss and a 15.43 ERA in his debut on May 28.
The Dodgers sent Stephen Fife to the mound, who has been a surprising arm in the rotation, who came into the game with a 2.35 ERA through four starts.
Nick Punto provided the fireworks in the second inning.
On the first play, Nick Punto, who stands at 5-foot-9 got air and robbed Pablo Sandoval of a base hit. Sandoval connected on a 3-2 pitch, and Punto made a huge leap into the air and got his glove up just high enough to snag the ball mid-flight.
The next batter, Hunter Pence, hit a high pop-up that hooked foul down the third base line. Punto tracked the ball all the way to the front row next to the Dodger dugout, and stretched almost completely horizontally into a crowd of four or five gloves, that were also reaching for the ball.
After the play, it took a few seconds for third base umpire, Lance Barksdale to make the out call, as Punto emerged from the crowd with the ball.
Tim Federowicz led off the bottom of the third with the first hit of the game for either team, his fourth double of the season. Punto grounded to third, holding the runner at second, and Fife followed up with a strikeout.
Mark Ellis then swung on a fastball and sent it over the left field wall for his fourth homer of the year, a 2-run shot that gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.
Buster Posey responded for the Giants in the top of the fourth by connecting on a two-out, line drive that somehow seemed to stay up just long enough to clear the wall in left — almost exactly where Ellis’ shot ended up — to cut the deficit to one run.
Fife found himself in trouble in the fifth, when Pence led off with a single to right and Brandon Belt followed by hitting a slow chopper towards short and reached without a throw. Fife then threw a wild pitch in the dirt, allowing both runners to advance. Pence scored on a fielder’s choice and the Giants tied the game at two runs.
Hanley Ramirez came through in a big way in the sixth inning. After Adrian Gonzalez hit a 1-out double to right, Ramirez smoked a home run off the left field foul pole, and the Dodgers took a 4-2 lead. According to ESPN, Ramirez’ homer left the field in 2.97 seconds, which is reportedly the fastest any home run has left any ball park this season.
Kemp then followed up with his first hit since rejoining the club — a single to right center — and Ethier moved him over with another single.
Federowicz slapped a single to left, and Kemp, despite coming off a hamstring injury, was waved home.
More important than Kemp’s hit at the plate was his ability to run to beat out Torres’ throw. Kemp scored with a slide into home, and the Dodgers led 5-2.
The shots kept coming in the sixth, as Jake Dunning, who came in relief, attempted to pick of Federowicz at first. The throw was wild, and Ethier was able to score easily to give the Dodgers a 6-2 lead.
By the end of the inning, four Dodgers scored and eight batters saw the plate.
Brandon League, who lost his job as closer two weeks ago, seemed to have another crack at his old job in the ninth.
With the Dodgers leading 6-3, League, as ever, made the game exciting — or nerve-racking, depending on your point of view.
League gave up a lead off single to Pence, followed by an RBI double to Belt to cut the lead to two runs with no outs.
Torres then slapped an RBI single down the right field line, and the Giants had the tying run aboard as League left the mound to a deep round of boos from the crowd without having recorded an out.
Kenley Jansen, who pitched the previous three consecutive days, was unavailable, and the Dodgers had to turn to Paco Rodriguez.
Rodriguez gave up a single to Crawford before getting pinch-hitter Juan Perez to fly out to shallow center for the first out.
Gregor Blanco swung and missed on a breaking ball for the second out.
That was when Matt Kemp showed that he is, most definitely, back.
Kemp tracked a deep fly ball hit by Marco Scutaro and made a dramatic catch at the warning track to win the game.
Kemp promptly hopped to his feet, slammed his hand against the wall, and turned to show a look on his face that he hasn’t had in some time — a faint glimpse of Beastmode.
It was he, anyway, who claimed before the ball game, “It’s a whole new season.”
The Dodgers go for the sweep on Wednesday night.