Hiroki Kuroda takes no-hitter into eighth, combines with Hong-Chih Kuo on one-hitter in 3-0 victory
The team had unloaded its lone marquee player, Manny Ramirez, in a salary dump. The Dodgers had fallen 6½ games out of the wild-card race. The divorcing owners had gone to court to determine exactly who owns the team. And they were facing the Phillies' ace, former Cy Young winner Roy Halladay.
Into this baseball murk stepped right-hander Hiroki Kuroda.
And suddenly, everything was golden. On the field, for one night, almost perfect.
Kuroda flirted with a no-hitter for 7 1/3 innings before Shane Victorino broke it up with clean single, the Dodgers going on to a much-needed 3-0 victory over Philadelphia and Halladay.
Kuroda struck out Carlos Ruiz after the Victorino hit and was then relieved by Hong-Chin Kuo. Kuo pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless ball to pick up his seventh save and complete the one-hitter.
Kuroda (10-11) was in complete command from the first pitch. He ended his night allowing the one hit, walking two and striking out seven in his 7 2/3 innings. He consistently threw in the mid-90s.
Until Victorino’s single, the Phillies hadn’t really even sniffed at a hit. Kuroda did not require any particularly strong defensive plays behind him. In the seventh, Placido Polanco sent a liner to right, but Andre Ethier was in perfect position to make the catch.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, gave Kuroda an early lead with which to work.
In the first inning, Ryan Theriot walked, went to second on Ethier’s infield hit and scored on a James Loney single.
In the third, Casey Blake led off with a hit and took third on Jamey Carroll’s single. Rod Barajas, in his first at-bat as a Dodger at Dodger Stadium, bounced into a double-play, but it was still good enough to score Blake from third.
Barajas made off a little better in his next at-bat, driving a Halladay offering over the left-field wall for his 15th home run of the season, and second since being picked up on waivers on Aug. 22.
Halladay, who earlier this season threw a perfect game, was less than at his best Monday. He gave up 10 hits in seven innings, with one walk and four strikeouts as his record fell to 16-10.
The victory pulled the Dodgers back to within 5½ games of the Phillies for the wild-card berth. The Phillies had just swept a three-game series from the Padres.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda works against the Phillies in the eighth inning Monday night at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times