"Again," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said, "the guy we're fighting like hell to get to is the one that gave us the heart palpitations."
Torre was referring to Broxton, who allowed two Reds to reach before he struck out the final two batters of the game. The other four relievers had a much easier time dispatching Reds hitters.
"These guys are taking this opportunity and they are certainly giving us an opportunity to do something special," Torre said. "I feel great about our chances."
With the bullpen shutting down the Reds, Kemp gave the Dodgers a chance to win the series in the 12th. It wasn't a towering home run, but Kemp's fly ball to center field was just enough for the victory.
A day after he crushed a three-run blast to center field, Kemp continued his power surge with his 21st homer of the season in the fifth inning. But his sacrifice fly was the RBI that mattered.
Manny Ramirez walked to start the 12th and Juan Castro doubled against his former team to put two Dodgers in scoring position. After Reds closer Francisco Cordero walked Andre Ethier intentionally, Kemp delivered on an 0-2 pitch with a high fly ball to center field that easily scored Ramirez.
"Tough at-bat," Torre said. "That's when I talk about Matt and how he fights. Again, like [Clayton] Kershaw, he doesn't lose his composure."
Kershaw, who started for the Dodgers, pitched a poised game, mowing down Reds hitters over seven innings with 11 strikeouts. He struck out four of the first six hitters he faced and didn't let up over his outing.
"Strikeouts are kind of a misleading stat sometimes," Kershaw said. "It looks good in a box score -- that's about all."
The only mistake he made was a two-run homer to Darnell McDonald in the second that gave the Reds an early lead. But he recovered over his final five innings and gave up just two more hits.
"He has pitched a lot of key ballgames and close ballgames," Torre said. "He hasn't waffled one bit."
In the fifth, the Dodgers tied the score thanks to Kemp's homer to break up a no-hitter from Reds starter Bronson Arroyo. A single later in the inning by Kershaw plated Casey Blake to tie the score at 2.
Kershaw exited after the seventh, but the Dodgers' impressive pitching continued. George Sherrill gave up two singles in the ninth, but he escaped without any damage before Ramon Troncoso, Hong-Chih Kuo and McDonald each struck out two batters in their one inning of work.
Kershaw watched his relievers hold the Reds scoreless inning after inning and wasn't concerned about earning his ninth win, which he has been unable to get since July 18. But he knew with the bullpen pitching the way it has all season that his team would end up with a victory eventually.
"They've been awesome," Kershaw said. "They've kind of been the rock of the team."