The overriding theme of the day for the Dodgers on Thursday was relief. The day concluded with a 5-3 win -- finally -- over the Cardinals, a relief for the club, who had lost 17 of their previous 20 games in Mound City. But before that result, the day was so filled with relief that it should have been sponsored by Rolaids®.
Earlier in the day, the Dodgers picked up talented lefty reliever George Sherrill, for third baseman Josh Bell and pitcher Steve Johnson, providing the Dodger bullpen with some extra depth in the back end. Sherrill will join the club Friday in Atlanta.
Hiroki Kuroda had his second good outing in a row, allowing only two runs in his six innings of work. It seemed like Kuroda could have pitched much longer, having thrown only 72 pitches, but the struggling Dodger offense needed all the help it could get, so Joe Torre sent Juan Pierre to pinch-hit in the seventh inning. The move paid off, as Pierre singled and later scored on Rafael Furcal's two-run double.
In a tie game in the eighth inning, Dodger fans breathed a sigh of relief at the return of Hong-Chih Kuo. Kuo entered the game after a Nick Stavinoha's leadoff double. After a sacrifice to advance the runner, Kuo blew away pinch-hitter Ryan Ludwick, setting up a potential showdown with Albert Pujols with two outs. However, rather than summon a righthander to face Pujols, Kuo had his Rick Vaughn "I want Parkman" moment, intentionally walking both Pujols and Matt Holliday to face lefty Rick Ankiel, who had homered in his last at-bat, with the bases loaded. Three electrifying fastballs later, and Kuo got out of the jam with a clutch strikeout. Since his return this week, Kuo has faced ten batters. Outside of the two intentional walks, Kuo has retired all eight batters, three by strikeout.
Matt Kemp had three hits and three RBI, including both a run-scoring single in the second inning and an eventual game-winning two-run single in the 10th, giving the Dodgers some much-needed success with runners in scoring position.
Casey Blake had four hits, giving him seven hits over the last two games.
The four game losing streak is over, and the Dodgers are leaving St. Louis. For that, we breathe a sigh of relief.
Jason Schmidt faces Tommy Hanson Friday in Atlanta.
WP - James McDonald (3-2): 1 perfect IP
LP - Dennys Reyes (0-2): 0.1 IP, 1 hit, 2 runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Sv - Jonathan Broxton (24): 1 IP, 1 walk