Hirokie Kuroda made his sixth consecutive quality start of the season on… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)
The relieved look on Hiroki Kuroda's face in the clubhouse needed no translation.
The Dodgers scored as many runs for the Japanese pitcher Sunday as they had in his four previous starts combined.
"I'm not really used to having this many runs," Kuroda said through an interpreter after the Dodgers' 7-0 victory over the Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium.
Kuroda thanked his teammates for their support by limiting the Astros to five hits and one walk over seven scoreless innings.
It was Kuroda's sixth consecutive quality start of at least six innings in which he gave up three earned runs or fewer, but the right-hander went only 2-4 over that stretch because the Dodgers averaged only 2.7 runs in those games.
"Everybody knows Hiro hasn't been getting the run support that we want him to," said catcher Dioner Navarro, whose two-run homer in the second inning was one of three homers the Dodgers hit Sunday. "He's been outstanding for us the whole year."
The seven runs tied the most support the Dodgers have given Kuroda (8-14) in any game this season.
When Manager Don Mattingly met rookie shortstop Justin Sellers during spring training this year, the conversation extended beyond hello.
"You faced my dad," Sellers told his manager.
Indeed he did. With plenty at stake.
On the final day of the 1986 season, Mattingly needed to go six for six against Boston to surpass the injured Wade Boggs and win the American League batting title. One statistician had put Mattingly's odds at 12,944 to one.
On the mound for the Red Sox that day at Fenway Park: Jeff Sellers.
"He was right-handed," Mattingly recalled. "I think he was No. 19."
Batting leadoff for the New York Yankees to get more at-bats, Mattingly homered on the game's fifth pitch, the ball clearing the roof of Boston's bullpen in right field. But Sellers won the next battle, getting Mattingly to fly out to left fielder Jim Rice. Boggs had his batting title.
Mattingly finished two for five with a walk, his .352 batting average falling short of Boggs' .357 average. Mattingly can blame the father of the newest Dodger.
"It's funny to hear that my dad faced my manager," Justin Sellers said.
Tony Gwynn Jr. stole his career-high 18th base in the first inning and Matt Kemp stole his 31st in the sixth. Kemp is on pace for 38 homers and 42 steals, which would surpass his career highs of 28 homers and 35 steals. … Mattingly gave Casey Blake the day off in an attempt to manage the third baseman's chronically sore neck. Aaron Miles went two for four with a double in place of Blake, who had started the previous five games. … Juan Rivera also had the day off.