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Kuroda, Manny Lead Dodgers Sweep of Diamondbacks, 6-3

Through six innings, tonight was a close game, featuring the Dodgers' current best pitcher and one whom they thought would be their best pitcher by now.  Edwin Jackson and Arizona trailed Hiroki Kuroda and the Dodgers 3-2 after six innings, but that's when things turned ugly for Arizona.

With Jackson already at 99 pitches through six innings, but faced with the prospect of turning the game over to the struggling Diamondbacks' bullpen, manager A.J. Hinch opted to give the ball back to Jackson for the seventh.  With two outs and runners on second and third base, Hinch faced an impossible choice:

  • Face Mr. Triple Crown, Andre Ethier, who is leading the NL in several categories
  • Walk Ethier to face Manny Ramirez, you know, the guy with 548 career home runs who was hitting .396 with a .507 on-base percentage in 2010

Hinch chose to walk Ethier, the first time ever that Ethier has been walked to get to Manny.  Ramirez then made them pay, hitting Jackson's 121st pitch of the night off the wall in dead center, for a three-run double that broke open the game.  It is an insane luxury to have three outfielders this good.

In another first, Kuroda walked Conor Jackson to leadoff the game, the first time in 58 career starts that he has walked the first batter of the game.  After setting his career high with five walks in his last start, this was some cause for concern, especially that Kuroda walked Jackson on four pitches.  However, he quickly settled down and didn't walk another batter.  Kuroda lasted 7 1/3 innings, allowing three runs (one unearned) while striking out nine batters, a total he has surpassed just once in his MLB career:

Hiroki Kuroda Best Strikeout Games
Date Opp IP H R ER BB K
6/26/08 ChC 9.0 4 0 0 0 11
tonight Ari 7.1 6 3 2 1 9
7/25/09 Fla 6.0 6 3 2 1 9
6/23/09 CHW 8.2 4 2 2 0 9

Other Notes

  • Ethier opened the scoring with a two-run home run in the fourth inning, his league-leading 11th tater of the season.  Ethier for the series had six hits in 15 at-bats, four doubles, a home run, five runs, and five RBI
  • Matt Kemp had two hits, including the go-ahead RBI single in the fifth inning.  If game-winning RBI were still an official statistic, it would go to Kemp this evening
  • Jamey Carroll had a single, two walks, two runs scored, and a stolen base in what was likely his final game as the regular shortstop, as Rafael Furcal is expected to be activated Friday.  In his 15-game stint filling in for Furcal at shortstop, Carroll his .300/.390/.340 with nine runs scored, batting eighth in the lineup for all but two of the games
  • Jonathan Broxton picked up his fourth save of the season, and even though he walked his second batter of the season, he also struck out three.  On the season has walked two and struck out 22 batters in 12 2/3 innings.
  • Casey Blake wore the Golden Sombrero tonight, but made a fine defensive play in the first inning, catching a foul pop before crashing into the Arizona dugout
  • This was the first time the Dodgers have swept the Diamondbacks in a three-game series in Arizona (they did sweep a four-game set in July 2004)

The Dodgers are off tomorrow, but begin a three-game series with the first-place Padres in San Diego on Friday, with Ramon Ortiz facing old friend Jon Garland in the opener.

WP - Hiroki Kuroda (4-1):  7 1/3 IP, 6 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), 1 walk, 9 strikeouts

LP - Edwin Jackson (1-5):  6 2/3 IP, 7 hits, 6 runs, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts

Sv - Jonathan Broxton (4):  1 IP, 1 hit, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Box Score