Hiroki Kuroda (2-0)overcame a three run first inning to work into the sixth and win his second game of the season in three starts. He coughed up a walk and two home runs in the first inning, allowing seven hits and six runs -- but only three of them unearned.
He also overcame an umpire who changed his mind about an inning-ending catch. The decision recalled the Dodgers from their dugout, turning the catch into an RBI single that tied the game. Kuroda had to regain his composure, retake the mound and face the Cincinnati leadoff man with the bases loaded.
The apparently unshakable pitcher ended the inning for the second time with a strikeout.
He nicely worked around a pair of errors and left after 103 pitches.
The Dodgers had padded his lead by then and went on to batter five different Cincinnati pitchers for 18 hits, including home runs by Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, and a rejuvenated Rafael Furcal who collected his sixth RBI of the series after not knocking in a run over the first dozen games.
George Sherrill took over in the sixth and allowed a two-run single, indicating that whatever has been bothering him is still bothering him.
Adding to the Twilight Zone sort of evening, Jeff Weaver took over in the sixth, retired one Reds batter and left the game with a stiff back. On the positive side, Ronald Belisario finally made his 2010 debut and retired the side in order and rookie Carlos Monasterios allowed just one hit in 1.2 innings to close out the win.
On the offensive side of the scorebook, Furcal, Ethier, Manny Ramirez and James Loney finished the game with three hits and Russell Martin had a pair. Every position player had at least one hit, save pinch-hitter Garret Anderson, and six different Dodgers knocked in a run or more. The Dodgers' 93 runs lead the majors, as does their .315 average.
Furcal came to bat in the ninth lacking a home run to complete a cycle but grounded out. He had a horrendous spring training, started the season slowly and was without a run batted in before the first game of the road trip. He now has five.
Ethier slugged a solo home run in the third and Kemp stretched his hitting streak to 10 games with a two-run shot in the seventh, his seventh of the season.
Despite the deluge of hits, the Dodgers didn't separate themselves from the Reds until the eighth inning
Dodgers fans who are fretting about a starting rotation that is having trouble sorting things out, must consider the Cincinnati dilemma. After 15 games none of their starters have won a game yet.
It was a wild offensive night (again) in Cincinnati and the two teams put up slow-pitch softball numbers on the scoreboard for the second game in succession. After losing 12-10 in the first game of the series, the 14-6 victory gave the two clubs a total of 46 runs and the two pitching staffs a mutual migraine headache.
The Cincinnati park is a beautiful place in a gorgeous setting but should be called The Great "Little" American Ball Park. The ball jumped into the seats much like it did at one time in Coors Field. After the first 176 games, only 43 of them have been homerless.
The trend continued Wednesday night. After Ramirez's RBI single in the first gave the Dodgers a 1-0 bulge, Joey Votto smacked his second home run in two nights to tie the game and after a walk, Scott Rolen followed a walk with another round tripper.
Kuroda, who ranked fifth in the National League with a 1.20 ERA heading into the game, had not given up a home run in 15 innings. He had issued just one walk in 14 frames. He would allowed a pair of homers and a pair of walks this night.
Furcal's two-run double in the second and Ethier's solo shot gave the lead back to Los Angeles
Kuroda buckled in and retired eight in a row before Blake DeWitt's error allowed resulted in a bases-loaded, two-out situation in the fourth. He went 3-2 to Cincinnati starter Aaron Harang who sliced a line drive to right field.
Ethier raced in and made a diving catch to end the inning.
Like TV commercials say, "Wait, there's more."
Reds manager Dusty Baker didn't think so and rushed out to chat with the umpires, who gathered in a small knot between first and second. they hemmed and hawed while television replays showed that the ball might have hit in the web of Ethier's glove, not the grass. Ethier himself said he thought he had caught the ball.
The Dodgers had left the field when the decision finally came. The umpire who made the call apparently changed his mind. The drive morphed from an out to a RBI single, leaving the bases loaded and the game tied. The Dodgers were called back to the field.
A more volitive pitcher could have imploded but if Kuroda was upset, you couldn't tell by the look on his face. He calmly struck out leadoff man Chris Dickerson to end the inning -- again.
Ramirez untied the game in the top of the fifth, dumping a little single into right field that scored Furcal. It was Manny's 1,800th run batted in and his third hit of the game. Ramirez reached base four times before being retired, running his two-game streak to eight.
A four-hit, four-run sixth gave the Dodgers a 9-4 lead. James Loney, who was 0-for-3 off the 6-foot-7 Harang, found a pitcher more to his liking in 5-foot-6 Ramon Hernandez and nailed him with a two-RBI single. He collected two more hits on the night and finished 3-for-6.
The Dodgers' second error, this one on Furcal, ended Kuroda's night and Sherrill came in to add a walk and a two-run single to the extravaganza. Some wondered, with the score now 9-6, if the Reds could make a comeback.
Furcal added an RBI triple and scored on Kemp's shot into the right-center field seats in the seventh to pretty much ice things. Casey Blake drove in a run in the eighth and pinch-hitter Reed Johnson's pinch-hit RBI wrapped the offensive department up for the night.
Belisario worked a 1-2-3 seventh and Weaver had retired the first Reds batter in the eighth before coming up with a sore back. Monasterios allowed a ground ball single, then threw a double play ball. He pitched around a walk in the ninth to put the Dodgers back at .500 with a 7-7 record.
"Kuroda had to work hard," said Dodgers manager Joe Torre. "You don't want to give up six runs. But I have found over the years that when you score 14 runs, I am a much smarter manager."
Tonight, in the final game of the series, The Reds will send Mike Leake, who has made the jump from Arizona State to Cincinnati without a stop in the minor leagues. Vicente Padilla will take the ball for the Dodgers.
Tonight RHP Vicente Padilla (1-1, 8.04) vs. RHP Mike Leake (0-0, 2.63)
Friday in Washington, RHP Charlie Haeger (0-1, 7.20 ) vs. RHP Craig Stammen (1-0, 8.16)
Saturday in Washington, LHP Clayton Kershaw (1-0, 3.18) vs. RHP Jason Marquis (0-3, 20.50)
Sunday in Washington, RHP Chad Billingsley (1-0, 7.07) vs. LHP Scott Olsen (0-1, 11.74)
Dodger Blue Notes-- Two Dodger minor league sluggers were honored last week with Triple-A Albuquerque infielder John Lindsey winning the Pacific Coast League’s Batter of the Week award and Single-A Great Lakes outfielder/first baseman Jerry Sands taking home Midwest League Offensive Player of the Week honors for the period of April 8-18. ...The Dodger offense scored 14 runs and ripped off 18 more hits last night, raising its Major League-best batting average to .315. The Dodgers also lead the bigs with a .385. Los Angeles is first in the Majors with 93 runs scored. ...Matt Kemp went 1-for-3 yesterday, extending his hitting streak to a Dodger season-high 10 games. Kemp has now hit safely in 13 of the Dodgers’ 14 games and is hitting .357 (15-for-42) with a double, six home runs and 12 RBI during the streak. ...Ronnie Belliard delivered a pinch-hit double in the first game of the series, raising the Dodger pinch-hitters’ average to .296 (9-for-28) on the season. Belliard is hitting .409 (9-for-22) and slugging .773 with three doubles, a triple and a home run this year. ...Before the game Manager Joe Torre made a visit to Churchill Downs in order to see his Kentucky Derby-running horse, Homeboykris. The Dodger skipper made the 100-mile pilgrimage to Louisville with a few members of his family, Dodger team photographer Jon SooHoo and Torre’s assistant, Chris Romanello. ...On this day in 1890, the Dodgers, also known as the “Bridegrooms,” won their first National League game with a 7-6 decision over the Boston Braves.