Today was a beautiful day for the Dodgers as they destroyed the Giants 8-0 on the backs of some unlikely performers. Eric Stults was the star as he pitched a complete game shutout, allowing only four hits and no walks while striking out five batters. Stults battled off fatigue and came to the plate in the bottom of the 8th inning despite already having thrown 107 pitches. He smoked an RBI single to right field to put the Dodgers up 7-0 and then got three outs in the 9th after Edgar Renteria hit a double to start the inning.
But Stults wasn't the only player determined to show the Dodgers don't need Manny Ramirez to win. Juan Pierre doubled to lead off the 1st and later scored to give the Dodgers an early lead. In the 3rd Pierre and Juan Castro both added RBI doubles to give the Dodgers a 4-0 lead. In the 8th Juan Castro doubled again to drive in a run and scored on Pierre's RBI single. Pierre finished 3-5 with 2 doubles, 2 runs, and 3 RBI's and Castro was 3-4 with 2 doubles, 2 runs, and 2 RBI's. The two unexpected heroes were involved in every run the Dodgers scored today.
The game wouldn't have been a shutout though without the help of Matt Kemp. Kemp's defense has improved by leaps and bounds over the past year and he really showed it off today. In both the 6th and 9th innings Kemp made great running catches with runners on base that probably saved Stults at least three runs. Kemp's defense has helped overshadow the often times shaky defense the rest of the outfield has provided and was huge in allowing Stults to pitch all nine innings today.
Kemp also had an RBI single and a stolen base to help out the offense. He was joined by Orlando Hudson, who went 2-5 with a double, and Russell Martin, who was 1-1 with 3 walks.
The win improves the Dodgers to 22-10 and showed that this team will be just fine without Manny Ramirez. Their lead over the Giants was stretched to 5.5 games, but it was important to get the win today because tomorrow will be quite tough. At 1:10 PM Jeff Weaver will be making his second start of the year against Tim Lincecum in a game the Dodgers will need to win if they want to take the series from their division rivals.
Joe Torre said after the game the he expects Rafael Furcal to turn it around after a slow start to the season. Torre thinks that Furcal is fine physically, but he is trying to overdo it in all aspects of the game. Torre added that Manny still hasn't spoken to his teammates since his suspension and that he would like to see Manny reach out to them eventually. Torre said there is no rush and that, "I think he feels really badly and is embarrassed by the whole thing. I think he's still trying to gather his thoughts at this point."