Kemp committed a baserunning misjudgment in the 10th inning that he felt made the difference in the Dodgers' 4-3 loss to the Brewers that snapped their five-game win streak and dropped them back into second place, one game behind the D-backs.
"I made a mistake and it cost us the game," said Kemp.
Of course, Kemp didn't serve up J.J. Hardy's two-run homer in the eighth. That was Hong-Chih Kuo, brought on when starter Derek Lowe got the quick hook after allowing only one run in seven innings on 94 pitches.
Kemp didn't walk Ray Durham with two out in the top of the 10th or allow him to steal second base or serve up Hardy's ultimate game-winning single. That was Jonathan Broxton.
Actually, Kemp had an assist in the top of the first. He had a double and scored ahead of Andre Ethier's two-run homer in the bottom of the first off Dave Bush. And Kemp's one-out single in the 10th put him in position for another Ethier two-run homer. And center fielder Mike Cameron said the ball hit off his glove or it would have cleared the fence. Instead, it bounced off the fence and, with Kemp's help, turned into a 395-foot single.
"I hit it good, really good," said Ethier. "It's the perils you deal with at Dodger Stadium at night. The same ball in BP during the day sometimes goes out. At night, you hit it clean, and I did and I thought that. Unfortunately it just hit the wall there. Long single."
Kemp was indecisive, first going halfway to second, then retreating to first to tag, expecting Cameron to make the kind of circus catches he'd been making all night. This one Cameron missed, and all Kemp could do was reach second base.
"I thought it was the right thing to do, to go back and tag, but it wasn't," said Kemp. "I thought he'd catch it. He camped under it. We should have won that game."
Still, the Dodgers had the Brewers where they wanted them, with Jeff Kent and Manny Ramirez due up. Kent lined out to Cameron, a ball that would have scored Kemp from third had he been there. Instead, he held second.
Then came Ramirez and the stage was set for his kind of theatrics. Instead, David Riske struck him out and the game was over.
It probably shouldn't have come to that. After Hardy's two-run homer off Kuo in the top of the eighth for a 3-2 lead, the Dodgers tied the game in the bottom of the ninth when Ethier walked, took third as Hardy booted Kent's grounder and scored on Ramirez's sacrifice fly.
With two out, Russell Martin singled Kent to third and pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney walked to load the bases, but Casey Blake popped out to Durham. The Dodgers had two chances for their third walk-off victory of the week, but left five runners on base in the final two innings.
"It's just a disappointing loss," said Ethier. "We've been able to come through with those games lately, and it's disappointing not to do it tonight. We've been playing good ball, and we need to come out and do a better job tomorrow of scoring runs."
The Dodgers also could have won it in regulation time had Gabe Kapler not gone into the left-field box seats to pull back a Martin home run in the seventh inning.
While Dodgers co-closers Kuo and Broxton were earning a blown save and loss, respectively, sandwiched around a perfect inning by Chan Ho Park, the Brewers sent out a familiar face to pitch a shaky but scoreless eighth.
That was Eric Gagne, the former Dodgers Cy Young Award winner, making his first Dodger Stadium appearance since leaving the team. The most popular Dodger since Mike Piazza, Gagne was booed loudly by the Fireworks Night crowd. He struck out Blake, had Cameron rob Juan Pierre of a pinch-hit and had Kemp fly out to the fence in right-center.
"It was a tough game, but we have to move on," said Dodgers manager Joe Torre. "They came back, we came back. A lot of stuff went on. The first two hitters get a double and home run and then we didn't do a whole lot. But they struck out Manny to win the game, they certainly earned the victory."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less