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DODGERS 5, ST. LOUIS 3 (10)

Dodgers avoid sweep to Cardinals

On a busy day off the field, team gets a 10th-inning hit from Matt Kemp in a 5-3 win in St. Louis.

July 31, 2009|DYLAN HERNANDEZ | ON THE DODGERS

ST. LOUIS — The day started early and ended late for the Dodgers.

The 5-3 victory in 10 innings over the St. Louis Cardinals that ended their season-long losing streak at four games was only a small part of the latest you've-got-to-be-kidding-me 24-hour period for the traveling circus in blue.

First came the news that Manny Ramirez had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003 when he was with the Boston Red Sox, along with then-teammate David Ortiz. Then came word that the Dodgers had acquired reliever George Sherrill from the Baltimore Orioles and were negotiating with the Toronto Blue Jays in an attempt to land Roy Halladay.

The report on Ramirez and Ortiz in the New York Times led to some interesting, if not unique, sound bites.

Ramirez compared Ortiz and himself to mountains that could be moved only by divine force and the usually unflappable Joe Torre admitted to being irritated by the never-ending line of steroid questions and described the story as a "desperate" attempt by the downtrodden newspaper industry to attract readers.

"These unnamed sources . . . " Torre, the Dodgers' manager, said. "It's really embarrassing when your parents don't name you."

Finally, it was time for the game, which followed a 15-inning defeat the previous evening that took four hours, 53 minutes to complete.

"You don't think they can get any crazier and they're crazier all the time," Torre said.

But if there were any signs that the steady stream of scandals, trade rumors and recent losses were denting the Dodgers' psyche, Torre said he didn't see them.

"These guys are in the right frame of mind," he said.

Hiroki Kuroda found the form he had been unable to recapture since returning from a two-month stint on the disabled list, holding the Cardinals' super-charged lineup to two runs and four hits over six steady innings. Kuroda said he made adjustments to his footwork and timing, which allowed him to smooth out his delivery.

The Dodgers fell behind, 2-1, on a solo home by Matt Holliday in the fourth but took a 3-2 lead on Rafael Furcal's two-run double in the seventh.

That lead didn't last long, as Guillermo Mota served up a tying solo home run to Rick Ankiel in the bottom of the inning.

Recently-activated Hong-Chih Kuo was summoned out of the bullpen with the game on the line for the second time in as many days and struck out Ankiel with the bases loaded in the eighth inning to preserve the 3-3 tie.

"The look in the kid's eyes," Torre said, shaking his head. "He's a tough customer."

Rookie James McDonald, who gave up eight runs in 3 1/3 innings in his previous four outings, pitched a perfect ninth to force extra innings.

Matt Kemp did what few Dodgers were able to do in this series, driving in two runs on a 10th-inning single that broke the stalemate.

Closer Jonathan Broxton, who blew a ninth-inning lead the previous night, returned to collect his 24th save.

"As a reliever, you have to bounce back and be ready to go," Broxton said.

He wasn't alone in his thinking.

"It's been a little frustrating," Kemp said. "But we haven't been down. We've been grinding it out.

"We've been hitting the ball well, just not with runners in scoring position."

The Dodgers scored only three runs in the first three games of the series.

Kemp also drove in the Dodgers' first run of the game on a second-inning single that scored Casey Blake.

"This kid," Torre said of Kemp, "has no fear."

--

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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