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Hiroki Kuroda's formula is a sure winner for Dodgers over Brewers, 3-0

Club has struggled to score runs, so the right-hander throws 72/3 solid innings.

May 17, 2011|By Dylan Hernandez

You pitch for the Dodgers and you want to win a game?


Don't give up any runs.

Hiroki Kuroda has figured out that much.

Backed by a two-run home run by Matt Kemp and a run-scoring double by Jerry Sands, Kuroda pitched 72/3 innings Tuesday night to lift the Dodgers to a 3-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers that ended their losing streak at three games.

"The team is a little down right now," Kuroda said. "Somebody has to change something. The rotatino has been pitching well. Today just happened to be my turn."

The win was the second in a row for Kuroda (5-3), who six days earlier blanked the Pittsburgh Pirates over seven innings.

Kemp aided Kuroda's effort not only with his bat, but also his glove.

The Gold Glove center fielder leaped into the wall to turn a would-be extra-base hit by Casey McGehee with runners at the corners into the final out of the top of the first inning.

Kemp made a similar play in center field on Prince Fielder in the sixth inning with Ryan Braun standing on first base.

The two collisions with the wall ensured that the home run Kemp hit against Randy Wolf (3-4) would be the difference.

The Dodgers' run total Tuesday matched their output from the three previous games combined.

If anyone is prepared to deal with situations such as these, it's Kuroda.

"You can really tell he's bearing down," Manager Don Mattingly said. "The experience, I guess, helps him."

Kuroda spent the first 11 seasons of his professional career pitching for an under-financed, small-market team in Japan, the Hiroshima Carp.

The 35-year-old right-hander now finds himself pitching for an under-financed, big-market team.

But if anything, less is being asked of him here.

In Japan, Kuroda was nicknamed "Mr. Kantou" – or "Mr. Complete Game."

Kuroda pitched 74 complete games for the Carp, including 14 shutouts.

In 2001, he pitched 13 complete games and won only 12 games.

On Tuesday, Kuroda had to pitch his way out of trouble multiple times.

Bailed out by Kemp's catch in the first inning, Kuroda gave up a leadoff double to Wolf in the third inning. Wolf advanced to third base on a sacrifice bunt and Corey Hart drew a walk to put men at the corners.

But Kuroda struck out Braun and forced Fielder to fly out to left to preserve the 2-0 margin.

Kuroda gave up consecutive one-out singles to Yuniesky Betancourt and Jonathan Lucroy in the fourth inning, but got Carlos Gomez to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Even after Kemp's jump-into-the-wall grab in the sixth inning, Kuroda was in a pinch. Braun, who led off the inning with a single, advanced to second base on a groundout by McGehee and stole third with two outs. Kuroda got out of the inning by striking out Betancourt.

The two-run lead was nearly blown in the eighth inning.

With Kuroda still on the mound, Rickie Weeks led off with a single and was awarded another base on a balk.

The balk was Kuroda's first in his four seasons in the major leagues. His last balk had come with the Carp in 2003.

Kuroda retired the next two batters, then gave way to Kenley Jansen. The inconsistent second-year reliever entered the game with an 81/3-inning scoreless streak.

With Weeks on second and first base open, Jansen walked Fielder on four pitches to bring up McGehee.

But there were some nervous fans in the ballpark, as Jansen fell behind in the count, 3 and 0.

The at-bat ended with McGehee popping up to first baseman James Loney in foul territory.

The Dodgers' lineup provided the bullpen with an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning, when Juan Uribe singled and scored from first on Sands' double to right-center field.

Matt Guerrier pitched a perfect ninth inning to earn his first save. Guerrier pitched the ninth inning because Vicente Padilla was unavailable because of stiffness in his right forearm. Padilla had forearm surgery this spring.

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