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Dodgers back Hiroki Kuroda, sweep Cardinals

A.J. Ellis and Juan Rivera homer in a 9-4 victory for L.A.'s first sweep at St. Louis since 1993.

August 24, 2011|By Jim Peltz

Reporting from St. Louis — It was hard to tell what was hotter at Busch Stadium on Wednesday, the nearly 100-degree temperatures on the field or the Dodgers' renewed burst of run production.

Dodgers batters pummeled St. Louis pitching for the second time in less than 24 hours to defeat the Cardinals, 9-4, sweep their three-game series and finish the Dodgers' trip 5-5.

It was the Dodgers' first road sweep of the season and the first time the Dodgers had swept a series in St. Louis since 1993.

A six-run third inning and subsequent home runs by A.J. Ellis and Juan Rivera gave starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda (10-14) plenty of cushion.

"I don't think I had 100% [command] of all my pitches, but having that run support makes a lot of difference," Kuroda said through an interpreter.

It was the first major-league home run for Ellis, a catcher who was making his first start since being recalled from triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday.

The victory came on the heels of the Dodgers' 13-2 win Tuesday night, and "hopefully we can continue" to score runs, Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said.

After enduring poor run support for much of the season, Kuroda lately has enjoyed some leads — and taken advantage of them.

"He keeps us in every game, and for a while there we just didn't get him any runs at all," Mattingly said.

This was the Japanese right-hander's third consecutive win, and in each game the Dodgers have scored seven or more runs.

Kuroda allowed three runs and eight hits in his seven innings of work, including one run in the second inning that gave St. Louis an early lead.

But Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia (10-7) started the third inning by walking Justin Sellers and Tony Gwynn Jr., and by the time the inning ended the Dodgers had scored six times on six hits.

The hits included doubles by Rivera and James Loney and singles by Ellis, Matt Kemp, Jamey Carroll and Casey Blake, who was making his first start since hurting his right shoulder a week ago in Milwaukee.

Ellis hit his solo home run in the fifth inning and Rivera slugged his two-run home run to about the same spot against Cardinals reliever Kyle McClellan in the sixth inning after Kemp had singled.

Kuroda then gave up a two-run home run to Gerald Laird in the seventh inning, and the Cardinals added one run in the ninth inning against reliever Matt Guerrier.

Despite Laird's home run, "for Hiro to go seven [innings] today was awesome," Ellis said. "They asked if he wanted to come out after six [innings] and no, he wanted to go back out there. I love to see that."

james.peltz@latimes.com

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