Dodgers hit 3 homers to beat Mets 5-1

May 6, 2008 5:59:16 AM PDT
Matt Kemp celebrated his first NL player of the week award the best way possible - with a home run. Rafael Furcal and Blake DeWitt also connected against beleaguered Oliver Perez, and the surging Los Angeles Dodgers beat the New York Mets 5-1 on Monday night.

Furcal hit his 23rd career leadoff homer and DeWitt hit his first in the major leagues, helping the Dodgers win for the ninth time in 10 games.

"I'm excited about winning the player of the week, but that's just one step. We should have been team of the week, if anything," Kemp said with a grin. "They should give an award for that. We've been playing really well, and it shows. We're all having good at-bats and we're battling, trying to do whatever it takes to score runs and help the team win."

Chad Billingsley (2-4) allowed a run and five hits in six-plus innings, striking out four and walking four in his first career start against the Mets. The right-hander worked with men on base in every inning except the first, and stranded four runners in scoring position.

Perez (2-3) lost his third straight start, allowing five runs and six hits over six innings. It was his first outing since Mets closer Billy Wagner's public criticism of the left-hander, who gave up a combined total of 12 runs, eight hits and nine walks against Washington and Pittsburgh in his previous two starts.

Perez's woes continued in the opener of this three-game series, as the switch-hitting Furcal drove an 0-2 pitch to left-center for his 11th leadoff homer with the Dodgers.

Juan Pierre followed with a single, then stole second with one out and Jeff Kent batting. The former Met hit a vicious line drive that struck Perez right in the bread basket, but the pitcher recovered in time to throw him out as Pierre took third. Russell Martin drove in Pierre with a single, and Perez retired 10 of his next 11 batters before giving up three more runs in the fifth.

"If you're talking about me getting frustrated with him or giving up on him, it's not going to happen," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "It's not all about pitching. It's about preparation, it's about your mind-set and your thought process. It's his responsibility to hone his skills and harness that energy that he has and put into a consistent basis on the field. And once he learns to channel that emotion, that's when he's going to take off. That's all part of maturity."

DeWitt, in his second stint with the Dodgers this season because of Nomar Garciaparra's strained left calf, drove a 1-0 pitch over the center-field fence leading off the fifth. Perez had allowed only one home run over 29 innings in his previous six starts this season.

"Oliver kept us relatively in the ballgame after a shaky start, but the gopher balls hurt him," Randolph said. "I don't go into a game thinking that he's going to repeat what he did last time out. I feel like he's going to get better. We need him to be better. And if he wants to help this team win, he has to be better."

Pierre drew a two-out walk and Kemp followed with his third homer, a drive into the pavilion seats in right-center that gave the Dodgers a 5-0 lead.

"When the season first started, he wasn't getting the kind of playing time he thought he should get," said Kemp's agent, four-time 20-game winner Dave Stewart. "It took him a while to get past that, but I explained to him that his time is going to come. Now it has, and it's going to be tough to get him out of the lineup."

Kemp is hitting .330 through his first 30 games with three homers and 24 RBIs. Last season he batted .342, the fourth-highest average by a Dodgers player since the team moved to Los Angeles in 1958. In 2006, he homered four times in his first 10 games in the big leagues.

"He's going to be a solid major league player for a long time," Stewart said. "The more he plays, the better he's going to be at this game. It's a good situation for him to be in. You like to have that kind of competition with Juan Pierre, Andre Ethier and Andruw Jones. I don't know how long that rotation is going to stay like that. I mean, at some point, you may eventually have to move one of those guys."

Moises Alou, playing in his third game since coming off the disabled list, drove in the Mets' run with a sixth-inning single after a leadoff triple by Carlos Beltran.