Kuroda cruises as Dodgers beat Giants
SAN FRANCISCO – Hiroki Kuroda dodged the barrel of a broken bat that flew in his direction and retired 19 straight during one stretch, Casey Blake homered and the Los Angeles Dodgers matched their 2008 win total by beating the archrival San Francisco Giants 10-3 on Friday night.
Blake returned to the lineup following a five-game absence with a hamstring injury and hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning and James Loney drove in three runs for the first-place Dodgers, whose 84th victory marked their third win in four games.
Los Angeles (84-58) began the night with a two-game division lead over Colorado. The Rockies held a 4 1/2-game lead over the Giants in the NL wild-card race.
Kuroda (6-6), making just his second start since missing three weeks after sustaining a concussion Aug. 15, quickly ducked out of the way and off the mound when Matt Cain’s bat splintered on his third-inning groundout and sailed onto the dirt past second base. That had to be a scary moment for the right-hander, who gave up two hits to start the second then got 19 straight outs before John Bowker’s one-out triple in the eighth.
He struck out five and didn’t walk a batter in eight efficient innings to win for the third time in his last four decisions, bouncing back from a loss to San Diego on Sept. 6. He threw 86 pitches, 55 strikes.
Kuroda retired 21 straight batters against the Braves on July 7, 2008, a one-hit shutout.
Blake also singled in a run in the Dodgers’ five-run seventh, when Russell Martin hit a two-run double, Manny Ramirez added an RBI single and Loney had a sacrifice fly. Loney’s two-run double in the first gave Los Angeles an early lead against Cain (13-5). Matt Kemp hit an RBI double in the eighth.
The Dodgers came out with an energy and intensity following an off day Thursday. On Wednesday, they concluded a grueling stretch of 46 games in 48 days.
Los Angeles entered Friday’s game without at least a share of the best record in the National League for the first time since May 2 – and the team’s two-game lead in the NL West was its smallest since Aug. 25, when it also led Colorado by the same margin.
San Francisco needs to get back on track in a hurry before it loses even more ground in the playoff chase. The Giants have lost four of five and six of 10, including two of three at home to San Diego before Thursday’s off day.
NOTES: Both clubs sported red caps in memory of Sept. 11. A moment of silence was held before the national anthem, followed by a flyover. … Jim Thome didn’t play for the Dodgers as he nurses a left heel injury. … C Buster Posey, drafted fifth overall by the Giants in ’08, made his highly anticipated major league debut in the eighth. He received a warm ovation and fans chanted his name when he batted in the bottom half. He struck out. … Giants slugger Pablo Sandoval sported a new ‘do: zigzag cornrows. … Seven Giants took early bunting practice, an area that has hurt the club of late. … Might Rockies manager Jim Tracy beat out Joe Torre for NL Manager of the Year? “That should be my biggest hardship, trust me,” quipped Torre. … The Giants’ short-season Class-A team, Salem-Keizer (Ore.), won its third Northwest League title in four years Thursday. … San Francisco failed to sell out a game with the Dodgers for the fourth time in seven home meetings this year.
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