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Must C Classic: Dodgers turn a rare triple play

LOS ANGELES -- With his bases-loaded, two-out, walk-off single, Dee Gordon ended Sunday's ninth-inning chaos and ignited the controversy.

Sparked by the club's first triple play since 1998 in the top of the inning, the Dodgers rallied in the bottom of the ninth to score the game-winning run on Gordon's liner to left. The 5-4 victory gave the Dodgers a sweep of the Padres, and a 9-1 record -- matching their best start since the 1981 championship season.

But the victory on Jackie Robinson Day was by no means debate-free for Los Angeles. With two on and none out in the ninth, Padres first baseman Jesus Guzman bunted near home plate while umpire Dale Scott looked to have signaled foul. But the ball rolled fair and Scott then decisively signaled as much.

Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis picked up the ball and began an around the horn 2-5-6-3 triple play, and the momentum carried over to the bottom of the inning when Gordon stepped to the plate.

"I'm trying to get a good swing on the baseball," Gordon said. "I had a rough start, so I just tried to calm down and try to help the team win."

Gordon committed an error and also misplayed a pair of grounders to his right that were ruled hits. But manager Don Mattingly said the resolve of his young shortstop was what impressed him most.

"Dee was a little rough today, but that's all right," Mattingly said. "We've talked about it before. Dee's a kid. He's young and he's going to have days that he struggles, but he's going to do things like this, too."

Every day this week, it seemed someone brought up the law of averages in pointing out that both the Dodgers and their center fielder Matt Kemp can't possibly keep up their torrid starts to the 2012 season.

And yet, every day this week the Dodgers and Kemp, who blasted his fourth home run of the series, seem to be setting that bar even higher.

"I'm definitely proud of my guys," Kemp said. "We're finding ways to win -- extending games, extra-inning games, whatever it is, we're getting it done, and we're doing a great job."

On Sunday, Kemp blasted his sixth homer of the year, improving his average to .487 with a 3-for-4 day at the plate. He was serenaded to chants of "MVP" as he circled the bases following the third-inning homer, which put the Dodgers up by two.

Of course, the Dodgers have played all of their first 10 games against the Padres and the Pirates, who won 71 and 72 games last year, respectively. A better barometer of the club's 2012 outlook may come this week when Los Angeles heads to Milwaukee to face the defending NL Central champion Brewers.

"It's nice to get off to a good start, no doubt about that," Mattingly said. "But it's 10 games. We've got another 152 left. There's a long way to go, but that being said, I don't want to downplay it."

The general theme around a jubilant and upbeat Dodgers clubhouse was that it's too soon to get too high about the 2012 season. When asked about his hot start, Kemp responded by saying, "it's early" four separate times.

But regardless of the opponent or the month, through 10 games the Dodgers sit where 29 other teams would love to be -- atop the Major League standings.

Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, who admittedly wasn't himself in either of his first two starts this season, didn't have his best stuff on Sunday either. He lasted just 5 1/3 innings and gave up four runs (three earned) on eight hits. It was Kershaw's shortest outing at Dodger Stadium since he lasted five innings last May in an 8-5 loss to San Francisco.

"They battled Clayton all day long," Mattingly said. "We jumped early, Cy Young Award winner on the mound, and they keep scratching. He was in trouble pretty much every inning. That kept the pressure on him."

The Dodgers led by three entering the sixth inning when Kershaw ran into trouble. He walked three straight before an Orlando Hudson single ended his day. Josh Lindblom then surrendered a game-tying two-run single to pinch-hitter Jeremy Hermida.

Neither team scored again until the Dodgers did in the ninth, though it appeared the Padres would be the ones to break through. Guzman's bunt and Ellis' quick reaction changed that.

"It had that overspin on it, and I just wanted to play it out," Ellis said. "One thing we learn is you keep playing and don't assume anything. Just play, play, play until somebody stops you."

Padres manager Bud Black saw it differently.

"The whole play looked funky," Black said. "I saw the hands go up. Our impression was that it was a foul ball. It happened so fast. I didn't like the result."

After the umpires stuck with the call following a conference near the pitcher's mound, Black was ejected for arguing.

A few minutes later, Gordon was getting tackled by Kemp between first and second base, with the Dodgers' 10th straight victory over San Diego at Dodger Stadium in the books.

"That," Mattingly said, "was a wild inning." Comments