No Manny? No matter -- the Dodgers still have Hiroki Kuroda.
Kuroda's no-hit pitching through 71/3 innings lifted the Dodgers to a 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies and ace Roy Halladay on Monday at Dodger Stadium.
The win not only helped the Dodgers put Manny Ramirez's departure behind them, it also lifted the Dodgers to within 51/2 games of Philadelphia in the National League wild-card race.
Kuroda, perfect before walking Carlos Ruiz with one out in the sixth, didn't give up a hit until Shane Victorino singled to right field with one out in the eighth. As Victorino rounded first, the announced crowd of 44,896 loudly booed the Phillies center fielder and then quickly gave Kuroda a loud ovation.
They cheered again when, with Phillies on first and second and two out, Manager Joe Torre replaced Kuroda (10-11) with reliever Hong-Chih Kuo, but not before Torre clapped his hands as he approached Kuroda on the mound.
"I was hoping he was going to get it," Torre said of the near no-hitter. "His stuff was electric tonight."
Kuo then got Phillies pinch-hitter Mike Sweeney to hit into a force play to end the threat and he pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to protect the shutout and earn his seventh save.
The last Dodger to pitch a no-hitter was Hideo Nomo when he beat the Colorado Rockies, 9-0, on Sept. 17, 1996.
Kuroda, 35, also walked two batters and struck out seven, and he capped his performance by getting his first hit of the season, a single in the seventh inning.
"In the fifth inning I became conscious of the no-hitter's chance," Kuroda said through an interpreter. When Victorino got the hit, "I knew the fans wanted it and I knew my teammates wanted it, so I felt that I betrayed a lot of my fans and my teammates."
Halladay himself had pitched a perfect game against the Florida Marlins in May, and the right-hander entered the game with a stingy 2.22 earned-run average.
But the Dodgers rapped 10 hits against Halladay (16-10) and scored in the first inning when Ryan Theriot walked, Andre Ethier singled and James Loney singled home Theriot. They added another run in the second inning when Casey Blake singled, moved to third base on Jamey Carroll's single and scored when Rod Barajas hit into a double play.
Barajas, a Southern California native, then homered into the left-field pavilion in the fifth inning. Barajas was making his Dodgers debut at Dodger Stadium after recently being acquired from the New York Mets.
"This really was a big deal for me," Barajas said, adding that he sat in the same pavilion many times as a youngster "and brought my glove and never got a ball. I hope I made somebody happy out there."
As for catching Kuroda's near no-hitter, Barajas said "it was exciting and at the same time it was scary. Victorino's a good hitter and he did what nobody in the city wanted him to do."
Theriot extended his hitting streak to 11 games . . . Rafael Furcal, on the disabled list with a low back strain, is expected to play one or more rehabilitation games in the minor leagues this week . . . Starting pitcher Vicente Padilla, also on the disabled list with a bulging disk in his neck, pitched three shutout innings Monday in his rehab assignment with the Dodgers' single-A affiliate in San Bernardino.