Every time the Dodgers look like they're struggling and about to endure some sort of extended downturn, they rebound to remind us that they still in fact have the best record in baseball. Scoring only three runs in their last three games, and with Eric Milton -- the club's eighth starter in 2009 -- on the mound, the outlook was less than ideal for tonight's series finale at Wrigley Field.
However, the Dodgers did what they do best by scoring in the first inning. The first five hitters got singles, and all five scored, giving the Dodgers a Major League-best 52 first inning runs in 52 games. The five runs were more than enough, and the Dodgers won going away, 8-2 over the Cubs.
Eric Milton displayed good control again, and cruised into the sixth inning without giving up a run. He gave up two runs in the sixth, but by then the Dodgers had already scored eight runs so Milton had a nice cushion to work with. Milton ended up giving up only two runs in 5.1 innings, striking out four while picking up his second win of the week.
The bullpen trio of Ronald Belisario (hadn't pitched since Wednesday), Ramon Troncoso (hadn't pitches since Thursday), and Jonathan Broxton (hadn't pitched since Wednesday) closed out the Cubs with 3.2 innings of scoreless relief.
Jamie Hoffmann had a terrific defensive play in right field to end the second inning. With Reed Johnson on third base with one out, Bobby Scales lofted a fly ball into somewhat shallow right field. Hoffmann came in to make a diving catch, then immediately popped up to make a strong throw to nail Johnson at the plate by a few steps. Russell Martin made a nice scoop of the throw to complete the play.
Matt Kemp homered in the third inning to extend his team-high hitting streak to five games. Kemp hit the only two Dodger home runs on their seven-game road trip.
Juan Pierre struck out three times for only the third time in his career, and the first time he has done so in a nine-inning game since 2002.
The Dodgers return home after yet another successful road trip for a nine-game homestand. Arizona is the first opponent on the trip, and Monday's game features Hiroki Kuroda's return from the disabled list starting against Billy Buckner.
WP - Eric Milton (2-0): 5.1 IP, 6 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
LP - Sean Marshall (3-4): 4.1 IP, 8 hits, 8 runs (7 earned), 1 walk, 2 strikeouts