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DODGERS 10, SAN FRANCISCO 3

Fear is no factor as Dodgers roll to victory

Unfazed by shrinking lead in NL West, they rout Giants, 10-3, and increase cushion in wild-card race, if it should come to that. Hiroki Kuroda pitches eight strong innings.

September 12, 2009|DYLAN HERNANDEZ

SAN FRANCISCO — In a season that has included two lengthy trips to the disabled list and what he considers a near-death experience, Hiroki Kuroda never stopped laughing.

But his one-liners had a different tone Friday night after he held the San Francisco Giants to two runs and three hits over eight innings in the Dodgers' 10-3 victory at AT&T Park.

His dark humor turned into something much lighter -- or, at least, it had a lighter feel to it.

"It feels like I haven't won in a long time," he said.

One month and one day, to be exact.

Kuroda was flat-out dominant in his second start since being hit in the head by a line drive in Arizona on Aug. 15, retiring 19 consecutive batters at one point.

Between a second-inning double by Juan Uribe and an eighth-inning triple by John Bowker, not a single Giant reached base.

Kuroda nodded and provided measured answers when asked about how he pitched or what this win meant to the Dodgers, who maintained their two-game lead over the second-place Colorado Rockies in the National League West.

But a mischievous smile appeared on his face as soon as he started talking about a fragment of Matt Cain's broken bat that flew toward the mound in the third inning.

Asked whether the fear of being struck in the head came back at that moment, he replied, "No, but it probably would have if it had hit me."

He laughed.

"After getting hit by a ball that was traveling that fast, a bat seemed really slow by comparison," he said. "I figured there was no way I could get hit. If I was hit by that bat, I probably would've quit."

He laughed some more.

Recalling the obstacles he's faced this season, he mentioned how he was hit in the head -- and started to giggle.

Perhaps because his teammates saw him react to the harrowing accident the way he did, they, too, were able to laugh about the day Kuroda had to be rushed to a Phoenix-area hospital in an ambulance.

"I told Hiro I got hit in the elbow that game and I played the rest of the game," Casey Blake said. "I said I didn't know why he couldn't finish the game."

And what did Kuroda say to that?

"He laughed," Blake said.

Asked about Kuroda, Russell Martin smiled and said, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Blake and Martin had significant roles in providing Kuroda with the 10-2 cushion he had when he left the game.

Sidelined the previous four games because of a strained left hamstring, Blake hit a two-run home run that increased the Dodgers' lead to 4-1.

Martin's two-run double capped the Dodgers' five-run seventh inning.

That Matt Cain started for the Giants made no difference. Cain fell to 0-7 in 13 career starts against the Dodgers, giving up four runs and seven hits in six innings.

While he was in the game, the Giants scored only one run -- in the second inning when Nate Schierholtz grounded out to score Bengie Molina, who'd reached third on Uribe's double.

Not that Cain (13-5) isn't used to poor run support, particularly when facing the Dodgers. The Giants have scored two or fewer runs in seven of his last 10 starts against them.

The Dodgers increased to 7 1/2 games their margin over the Giants, whom they would have to hold off to claim the wild card if they were overtaken by the Rockies -- with only 20 games left on their schedule.

The loss dealt a severe blow to the Giants' fading postseason aspirations, as they fell 5 1/2 games behind Colorado in the wild-card race.

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dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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