Hiroki Kuroda ... dominating
Hiroki Kuroda, whose season up to now has been, for the most part, spent on the disabled list, seems to thrive in September and demonstrated that again by limiting the Giants to three hits over eight innings as Los Angeles stopped their arch rivals 10-3 in the first of six games over the next 10 games.
Even a flying bat fragment didn't slow him as he retired 19 straight batters as the Dodgers clung tightly to their slim, two-game lead over the Rockies who stopped the Padres 4-1 with a four-run ninth-inning rally and boosted their wild card lead to 5 1/2 games over the Giants.
The Dodgers (84-58) matched their 2008 record with the win, banging out 13 hits and putting the game away with a five-run seventh inning.
Kuroda, who missed most of April and May with an injury and making his second start since sustaining a concussion Aug. 15 when hit in the head by a line drive, allowed a pair of hits and the Giants only run in the second inning and not another hit until the eighth inning.
In the third, he had to avoid Matt Cain's splintered bat that twirled past him to end up by second base. “At first I didn’t know if it was a ball or bat coming at me,” Kuroda said through an interpreter. “Since I got a ball hit at my head, I didn’t think a bat could get there that fast. If I get hit by a bat, I think I’m going to retire.”
Kuroda, return to form fills the gap left by injuries to Clayton Kershaw and Randy Wolf. He is displaying the same tenaciousness he exhibited down the stretch last year, when he also won a pair of games in the post season.
Kuroda struck out five and didn’t walk a batter, using only 70 pitches through seven innings. He won for the third time in his last four decisions, and handed the ball to Ramon Troncoso after 86 pitches, 55 of them strikes.
He also received strong support from his teammates who hammered four Giants' pitchers and tagged handed Cain his fifth loss against 13 wins. The Giants pitcher dropped to 0-7 against Los Angeles.
After a late-season funk, James Loney has obviously found his stroke, collecting three more RBIs to run his total to 83. His two-out, two-run double in the first inning that got the game off on the right foot. Loney is 14-for-37 (.378) in his last 10 games.
Casey Blake returned to the lineup after a hamstring injury sidelined him for five games and hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning as Dodgers won for the third time in four games.
Russell Martin doubled home a pair and While all eight Dodgers position players had at least one hit as the Dodgers improved their record after a loss to 40-18.
"We're in the last 20 games of the season and as long as we win, there's not much anybody else can do about it," manager Joe Torre said only moments after another comeback win by the Rockies kept the Dodgers' lead at two games.
After first-inning singles Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, Loney had two-run, two-out double off Cain. The Giants scored in the second before Blake slugged a two-run homer, his 17th home run of the year and fifth in his last 16 games
The Dodgers broke it open with a five-run seventh on RBI singles by Manny Ramirez and Blake, Loney's sacrifice fly and Martin's two-run double gave him a second multi-RBI game this week and five RBIs in the last five games after driving in only five runs in the previous 26 games.
The 10-run explosion was the most in two weeks, and that pleased manager Joe Torre. "We haven't done anything different the last two or three weeks," he said before the game. "We won a game, lost a game, won a game, lost a game. It's been frustrating, but there hasn't been any change in our personality."
Tonight Vicente Padilla makes his fourth start for the Dodgers. Since arriving from Texas, Padilla is 2-0 with a 2.76 ERA.
He will face the hottest pitcher on the strong Giant staff, LHP Jonathan Sanchez (6-11, 4.03 ERA), who?struck out nine in the first five innings of his last start and lowered his ERA to 2.03. Sanchez tops the league since July 10 in batting average against, lowering it to .165.
Score by Innings
Los Angeles 200 002 510-10
San Francisco 010 000 011- 3
Dodgers ab r h bi ave
Furcal ss 5 1 1 0 .258
Loretta 3b 0 0 0 0 .223
Ethier rf 5 2 2 0 .283
Ramirez lf 4 1 1 1 .305
Pierre pr-lf 0 1 0 0 .318
Kemp cf 4 2 2 1 .306
Repko cf 0 0 0 0 .000
Loney 1b 4 1 2 3 .281
Blake 3b 3 2 2 3 .276
Castro 3b-ss 1 0 0 0 .296
Belliard 2b 5 0 1 0 .256
Martin c 4 0 2 2 .258
Ellis c 0 0 0 0 .000
Kuroda p 2 0 0 0 .130
Troncoso p 0 0 0 0 .000
Totals 37 10 13 10
San Francisco 32 3 5 3
2B- Loney (24), Billiard (10), Martin
(17), Kemp (23). HR- Blake (17).
RBI- Loney 3 (83), Blake 3 (73),
Ramirez (55), Martin 2 (43), Kemp (90).
S- Kuroda. SF- Loney. LOB- Los Angeles
7, San Francisco 2.
Dodgers in h r-er bb so era
Kuroda (6-6) 8.0 3 2-2 0 5 4.00
Troncoso 1.0 2 1-1 0 0 2.59
T- 2:49. Att- 39,212.
Dodger Blue Notes-- The Dodgers were 5-for-12 with runners in scoring position Friday night, while the Giants were 0-for-5. ...The Dodgers concluded a stretch of playing 46 games in 48 days beginning July 24. The club’s remaining 21 games will come in a lighter 24-day stretch. ...The Dodgers have won a season-high four straight road series for the third time. ...The Dodgers are 8-5 against the Giants thus far in the 18-game season series, and they need to go at least 2-3 in the remaining six games to assure a season series victory. Los Angeles hasn’t lost a season series to San Francisco since 2005. ...Dodger pitchers have given up five runs or less in 30 consecutive games beginning August 10, posting a Major League-best 2.65 ERA (78 ER/263.1 IP) overall in that span. In 28 of those 30 games, Dodger pitchers have allowed four runs or less, including 10 contests in a row.