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COL@LAD: Kemp drills a three-run shot in the first

LOS ANGELES -- Baseball is all about having a short memory. On Wednesday night, Matt Kemp displayed his when he hit a three-run homer in the same inning that he misplayed a ball on an inside-the-park homer as the Dodgers defeated the Rockies 6-4 at Dodger Stadium.

As a matter of fact, the entire offense showed that sort of short memory by putting the pair of offensive duds from the series' first two games behind them.

Chad Billingsley won his fourth straight game since the All-Star break and the Dodgers remained 1 1/2 games behind the Giants in the National League West.

"It's just nice to get a win, honestly, with the way we've been going," manager Don Mattingly said. "You never know how a series can go. This time of year is the best time of year to be playing. The games are all important. You play 162, but now you are getting to the point where you feel like you've got to win tonight and we feel like we've got to win almost every night."

The first inning featured two totally opposite kinds of homers -- one created from speed and the other from power.

The first homer was of the inside-the-park variety, when Eric Young Jr.'s ball traveled over Kemp's head in center field, bounced off the bottom of the wall and out of Kemp's reach to roll into no-man's land in center.

"I just put a good swing on it, saw the trajectory and immediately put my head down thinking either he's gonna catch it or it's going to be at least a double, so initially I was out of the box thinking double," said Young, who finished the series 8-for-14 with five runs scored.

After the Rockies picked up a second run in the first, Kemp atoned for his defensive miscue when he drilled a ball into the left-field pavilion with Shane Victorino and Mark Ellis already on base to give the Dodgers a 3-2 lead.

It was Kemp's 17th home run of the season and the third of his career off Rockies starter Jeff Francis.

"I got a good pitch to hit and I haven't really been hitting too well with runners in scoring position the last couple of days," Kemp said. "I needed to do something."

"I think when Matt hits that home run it changes the momentum," Mattingly said. "I think that puts us on the board, gives us a lead and allows us to relax. That's a huge hit."

The Rockies answered back in the fourth when Billingsley gave up a double to Jordan Pacheco and a single to DJ LeMahieu, but the Dodgers picked up three runs between the fifth and sixth to reclaim the lead.

The Dodgers managed only one run in the first two games of the series against the Rockies, the worst pitching team in baseball, but things clicked better on Wednesday.

That was largely due to the play of Victorino, who is giving the Dodgers a consistent presence at the top of the order.

The newly acquired outfielder took over in the fifth and sixth innings, playing a role in all three runs to help the Dodgers take the lead. The first came when he scored on a bases loaded walk by Hanley Ramirez in the fifth to give the Dodgers a 4-3 lead.

The second came on an RBI single that scored Matt Treanor, whose wife Misty May-Treanor won Olympic gold earlier in the day, and Victorino went on to score himself on a Mark Ellis base hit to make it 6-3.

"It was nice to get Shane going a little bit," Mattingly said. "I think we see what we are kind of capable of. This is what we envisioned with Shane getting on. Mark doing his thing and then we have our big boys in the middle being a force."

Victorino went 3-for-5 with three runs and an RBI, while Kemp went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and a run.

On the mound, Billingsley was shaky at first. After the inside-the-park homer, he walked a batter and gave up a single and a double, but escaped the inning allowing just two runs.

He settled down in the second inning and wound up throwing 6 1/3 innings of four-run ball.

"My command wasn't quite there, but I was able to make pitches and get some outs and get some quick innings," said Billingsley, who couldn't pinpoint why he's been so much more successful since the All-Star break.

Billingsley had lost five straight games before the break before and spent two weeks on the disabled list with a sore elbow. He's gone 4-0 since, giving up six runs in 26 2/3 innings after missing just one start.

"He's been around the plate and he's been throwing strikes," said Mattingly. "They got him early. They got that weird one early off the wall and from there he kind of just stayed on them."

Up next for the Dodgers after Thursday's day off is a grueling 10-game road trip against Miami, Atlanta and Pittsburgh.

"It's one game," Victorino said. "We've got an off day tomorrow. We've got a long flight to Miami and we've got to get ready to go."

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