Hiroki Kuroda was magnificent, pitching 7 2/3 scoreless innings, leading the Dodgers to a 3-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium. Matt Kemp provided the offense for the Dodgers with a two-run home run in the first inning, and the Dodgers added an insurance run in the eighth inning on an RBI double by Jerry Sands.
Kuroda has not allowed a run in each of his last two starts, spanning 14 2/3 innings. Kuroda allowed just six hits and two walks in his 7 2/3 innings tonight, striking out seven. Kuroda on the season leads the Dodgers in innings pitched (61), is tied for the lead in wins (five), and second to Clayton Kershaw with a 2.80 ERA. Tonight was the 22nd quality start by a Dodger starter in their last 28 games.
Kemp's home run in the first inning came after he had five strikeouts in five career at-bats against Randy Wolf. The two-run shot matched the Dodgers' run output for their previous three games combined. In addition to Kemp, there were a couple of near-homers on a rainy night in Los Angeles. In the fourth inning, Rod Barajas hit a ball that would have been a home run on most nights at Dodger Stadium, but it fell into the glove of left fielder Ryan Braun on the warning track. Then, in the sixth inning, Prince Fielder crushed a ball to dead center field that somehow stayed in the park, caught on a nice play by Kemp, a leaping effort near the wall.
Braun also completely caught Kuroda off guard in the top of the sixth inning, stealing third base with two outs. Braun stole the base so easily, he didn't even draw a throw. In his stellar career, Braun has stolen third base 25 times and been caught just four times. He also made a nice defensive play in the bottom of the seventh, quickly fielding a single by Aaron Miles down the foul line in left field, then turning and throwing while off balance to easily erase Miles at second base.
In the seventh inning tonight, Kuroda was called for a balk, the first in 558 career innings for Kuroda. The umpire who made the call was none other than Bob Davidson, who has long had the nickname "Balking Bob" within baseball circles. Kuroda is the second Dodger starter to get called for his first career balk this year, joining Jon Garland, who was called for a balk on April 15 against St. Louis. If I were Chad Billingsley, with zero career balks in five years, I'd watch my back.
Matt Guerrier pitched the ninth inning for the Dodgers, picking up his first save as a Dodger. He is the fourth different Dodger to collect a save this season, and if he doesn't get another save this season that will make six straight years for Guerrier with exactly one save.
Vicente Padilla, who was named the closer with both Jonathan Broxton and Hong-Chih Kuo on the disabled list, did not even warm up tonight. Padilla had forearm stiffness, per Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. Padilla hadn't pitched since Friday night, though the Dodgers also haven't had a save situation during that time either. The Dodgers battle the Giants for two games beginning Wednesday night. Kershaw faced Matt Cain in the series opener tomorrow.
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