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It's a flare to remember for Dodgers

July 26, 2009|KEVIN BAXTER

Casey Blake stood in front of his locker Saturday night, the only Dodger still in uniform, and searched for an explanation for his team's latest improbable victory.

"It was lucky," he said with a smile and a shrug. "That's all you can say."

Well, give Blake this much: It's as good as explanation as any.

Moments earlier his two-strike, two-out, bases-loaded bloop single in the bottom of the ninth had scored Rafael Furcal from third with the deciding run in a 4-3 victory over the Florida Marlins.

It was the Dodgers' 27th come-from-behind win of the season. The 10th to come in walk-off fashion.

"It just seems to happen to certain teams each season," said Blake, still searching for a way to explain the seemingly inexplicable. "They seem to have some magic."

And that, mixed with some good pitching and timely hitting, can carry teams a long way. The Dodgers got a little of each Saturday to win for the sixth time in seven tries.

On the pitching side were starter Hiroki Kuroda, who held the Marlins to two earned runs in six innings, and relievers Guillermo Mota and Jonathan Broxton, who combined for three hitless innings.

For Kuroda, the Dodgers' best pitcher in the playoffs last fall, it was only his second quality start in the last eight outings. And his nine strikeouts equaled a season high, giving a team lacking a true ace a big boost.

Mota, meanwhile, celebrated his 36th birthday by running his scoreless-inning streak to 19, the second-longest active streak in the majors, while Broxton ran his record to 7-0.

Offensively, Andre Ethier, who was hitting less than .250 a week ago, reached base five times on three hits and two walks while extending his hitting streak to six games. He's hit .591 over that stretch, lifting his season average to .269.

And then there's Blake, who fought off a tough pitch to lift a pop fly that dropped among a trio of Marlins in shallow right-center field for the game-winning hit.

"There aren't too many people you want up there instead of him as far as coolness," Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said of Blake. "You know he's going to fight for it. It's not pretty, but Casey's not going to just go quietly."

Furcal started the winning rally with a one-out push bunt for a single and Orlando Hudson followed with a single of his own off reliever Dan Meyer.

The Marlins brought in Luis Ayala, who struck out Manny Ramirez before walking Ethier. That brought Blake to the plate, and after two outside-corner strikes that Blake considered generous calls, he got just enough of the last pitch to get it over the infield.

"You don't want to know what I was thinking there," he said. "I was just trying to get a piece of it. We had some luck.

"Obviously, you like to win every game going away. But you're going to have some close ones. It's nice to win those too."

Kuroda started slowly Saturday, giving up a first-inning run on an infield single and a two-out double by Jorge Cantu. But the Dodgers matched that in the bottom of the inning on a leadoff triple by Furcal and an RBI single by Hudson, his first of three hits.

That hit also made Hudson the fifth Dodgers player to drive in at least 50 runs this season.

The Marlins took a 2-1 lead in the fourth on Cody Ross' two-out RBI single and made it 3-1 in the sixth on a run-scoring single by Jeremy Hermida.

But the Dodgers tied the score again in the bottom on the sixth on run-scoring singles by James Loney and Russell Martin.

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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