Does this look familiar? Dodgers win, 2-0, behind Hiroki Kuroda and Matt Kemp
All it takes is a starter throwing blanks and one regular driving in a couple of runs.
Works every time. Anyway, it did the past two nights.
This time is was Hiroki Kuroda doing the shutout thing and Matt Kemp providing all the offense, as the Dodgers defeated the Mets, 2-0, Thursday night.
Wednesday, Chad Billingsley threw a shutout and Casey Blake drove in both runs in a 2-0 victory over the Giants.
This is not a pattern?
Kuroda wasn’t given a chance at throwing a full shutout himself, being removed for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the eighth after having thrown 112 pitches. Hong-Chih Kuo pitched the ninth to earn his third save.
After the Dodgers had failed to earn a shutout in their first 94 games, consecutive shutouts by starters would have been just a little too strange. Mel-Gibson-could-wed-Lindsay-Lohan material.
But Kuroda was just as masterful as Billingsley had been, if not more so.
In his eight innings, Kuroda (8-8) allowed five hits and the only batter he walked was intentional. He struck out four.
The only inning the Mets challenged him was the fifth, and he handled that with aplomb. The Mets collected a pair of one-out singles, but Kuroda came back to strike out Josh Thole. He intentionally walked Luis Castillo and then got pitcher Hisanori Takahashi on a fielder’s choice.
Kuroda had lost three consecutive games coming into Thursday, though he had pitched well in his last outing against the Cardinals (six innings, one run on four hits).
This time he was rewarded for his efforts, thanks to the bat of Kemp.
The Dodgers opened the scoring in the first after Jamey Carroll, starting again in left field, walked. One out later, Kemp sent a drive to the wall in right for a run-scoring double.
Takahashi (7-5) otherwise kept the Dodgers in check. Outside of Kemp, he was almost untouchable.
In just the sixth Major League meeting between two Japanese-born pitchers, Takahashi had allowed only one other Dodger hit through six innings.
In the seventh, however, he had to face Kemp again. And this time the Dodgers center fielder didn’t mess with anything off the wall, driving a deep home run out to left. It was his 17th of the season.
For the first time this season, the Dodgers did not go to Jonathan Broxton to close the game. Broxton struggled badly
This time the Dodgers called on Kuo, who threw a scoreless ninth to extend the staff’s scoreless streak to 18 innings.
[UPDATE:] Manager Joe Torre said after the game that Broxton had food poisoning and had been sent home.
-- Steve Dilbeck