LOS ANGELES – After loading the bases with none out in the ninth inning and coming up empty, the Los Angeles Dodgers were not going to be denied.
Matt Kemp hit an RBI single in the 10th for his fifth career walkoff hit, giving the Dodgers a 1-0 victory over the Houston Astros on Friday night.
David Carpenter (0-2) gave up a double by Casey Blake that went just inside the first base line, then intentionally walked Andre Ethier before Kemp slapped an 0-2 pitch the other way just inside the right field line.
"It always feels good to get the game-winning hit. That's one of the most exciting parts of baseball — being responsible for helping the team win in that moment," Kemp said. "I hit two balls hard today, and the one I hit soft becomes a hit. So I guess that's how baseball works sometimes."
Josh Lindblom (1-0) pitched a perfect 10th inning for his first major league win.
The victory was a welcomed relief for the Dodgers, who wasted a leadoff triple in the ninth by Juan Rivera. Fernando Rodriguez intentionally walked both James Loney and Dioner Navarro before striking out pinch-hitter Tony Gwynn Jr. and getting a force at the plate on Jamey Carroll's tapper toward the mound. Aaron Miles then grounded out to second on a full count.
"Man, that was outstanding," Astros first baseman Carlos Lee said. "Fernando showed a lot of guts right there. He got the first two outs, then he fell behind 3-1. But he went after him with back-to-back strikes and made him swing the bat."
Houston fell 30 games out of first place for the first time since losing the next-to-last game of the 1991 season — and there are still 41 games remaining. The last time the Astros finished a season at least 30 games out was 1975, when they were a franchise-record 43½ back.
Bud Norris held the Dodgers to a pair of singles over seven innings, walked four and struck out eight before he was lifted for a pinch hitter. The right-hander has yielded just three earned runs over 26 innings in his last four starts against them.
In his previous start against Los Angeles on June 19 at Dodger Stadium, Norris gave up only one hit in six innings — but ended up with a no-decision as the Astros lost 1-0 on an eighth-inning homer by Navarro against Wilton Lopez.
Nathan Eovaldi held the Astros to just two hits over six innings in his second major league start, striking out three and walking four. The 21-year-old right-hander escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth when J.D. Martinez hit a broken-bat liner to second and Jimmy Paredes flied out to center.
"It was a pitcher's duel today, just one of those days where there wasn't a lot of hitting going on," Kemp said. "Norris was throwing strikes and getting hitters out, but our young buck did a great job of getting people out."
Eovaldi played for Alvin High School in Alvin, Texas — the same school that produced Hall of Famer and all-time strikeout leader Nolan Ryan, who spent nine of his 27 big league seasons with the Astros. The only other time he pitched from the Dodger Stadium mound was during a winter development camp.
"It was cool, going against the hometown team I grew up watching, but I just tried to stay focused on the game and give my team a chance to win," Eovaldi said. "I felt good."
Eovaldi made his big league debut last Saturday, giving up two runs and four hits through five innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks in a 5-3 road victory. He is one of five pitchers the Dodgers have promoted from Double-A Chattanooga this season, along with Lindblom, Rubby De La Rosa, Kenley Jansen and closer Javy Guerra.
"The kid's pretty good," Lee said. "He was spotting his fastball and working off his off-speed stuff. He pitched with a lot of confidence. He was throwing anything on any count and managed to stay around the plate and was throwing strikes."
Sellers made his major league debut at shortstop for the Dodgers, going 0 for 3 after getting promoted from Triple-A Albuquerque. A roster spot opened up when rookie Dee Gordon was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Aug. 10, because of a bruised right shoulder.
Gordon, who was recalled from Triple-A on July 31 when Rafael Furcal was traded to St. Louis, originally injured his shoulder on Saturday at Arizona while making a diving tag on Kelly Johnson in a rundown after Eovaldi had picked Johnson off first base. Gordon re-injured the shoulder when he fouled off a pitch Tuesday night against Philadelphia's Cliff Lee.
Notes: The Dodgers (6-0) are the only team in the majors that hasn't lost a game in extra innings this season. ... Former Dodgers and Astros IF Phil Garner, who hasn't managed in the big leagues since the Astros fired him with 31 games left in the 2007 season, was hired on Friday by Oakland as a special advisor. ... The Dodgers signed LHP Chris Reed, the 16th overall pick in the draft out of Stanford and assigned him to Class-A Rancho Cucamonga. ... The Astros are one of four NL teams that don't have a pitcher with at least 10 victories, along with Colorado, Florida and Washington. Wandy Rodriguez goes for his team-high ninth win Saturday night against 13-game winner Clayton Kershaw. ... RHP Matt Guerrier worked one inning for the Dodgers, striking out the side on 13 pitches in the seventh.