Status Kou: Brilliant

There were some who thought Manager Grady Little was throwing Hong-chih Kuo to the wolves when he gave him his first start against the New York Mets who were 35 games over .500. His history of wildness and his inexperince was against him was the litany but the yooungster (24) worked six shutout innings to earn his first major league victory in his first major league start.

Kuo didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning and two of the three hits were a bit shaky. David Wright led off the fifth with a soft liner to center than Kenny Lofton would have put in his back pocket 20 years ago, heck, 10 years ago. But he just couldn't reach it.

Shawn Green then laced a shot to left field for the second NY hit but Kou fanned Chris Woodward and got an inning-ending double play.

The other hit he allowed was a bouncer to third base that Wilson Betemit couldn't reach with two out in the sixth.

Kuo alternard a 97-98 mph fastball with an off-speed curve ball that kept the hard-hitting Mets off balence. He fanned seven and walked only three.

Los Angeles, who had scored one run in their last 27 innings, broke the dry spell in the first with a little help from the Mets.

After Rafael Furcal looped a single to left and Lofton laced a shot up the middle to lead the game off, Nomar Garciaparra bounced into a force play and J.D. Drew struck out. Jeff Kent walked to load the bases and when Marlon Anderson hit a sharp one-hopper to third it looked like they had drawn a blank.

But Wright threw the ball past Carlos Delgado at first and both Furcal and Lofton scored.

The Dodgers picked up two more in a most unusual way. Furcal (#10) and Garciaparra (#16) homered much to the surprise of the Dodger fans who don't expect much power from this year's club.

Drew also slugged a shot to right-center that Carlos Beltran leaped and caught above the fense.

The final Dodger run came on doubles by Russell Martin and Lofton in the sixth.

Brett Tomko worked a scorless seventh, although he gave up a one-out double. Jonathan Broxton did him one bettr in the eighth, allowing only a walk.

Then the crafty Takashi Saito pitched a 1-2-3 inning to put the much-needed victory in the books.

The win insured the Dodgers of remaining in first place for another day, boosting their lead over the Padres to a full game depending on the outcome of their contest with the Giants in San Francisco.

Los Angeles sends Greg Maddux (3-1, 3.31) to the mound in the third game and he will be opposed by Orlando Hernandez (9-10, 5.51) who has pitched for both the Diamondbacks and the Mets this year.
  Score by innings
Dodgers  200 021 000-5 
Mets     000 000 000-0

  Dodgers     ab r bi bi ave
Furcal ss      5 2 2 1 .293
Lofton cf      5 0 2 1 .306
Garciaparra 1b 4 2 2 1 .309
J.D. Drew rf   4 0 0 0 .276
Kent 2b        3 0 1 0 .277
 Saito p       0 0 0 0 .000
Anderson lf    4 0 1 0 .280
 Tomko p       0 0 0 0 .120
 Broxton p     0 0 0 0 .000
 Lugo 2b       0 0 0 0 .218
Betemit 3b     4 0 0 0 .276
Martin c       4 1 1 0 .289
Kuo p          2 0 0 0 .000
 Repko lf      1 0 0 0 .254
     Totals   36 5 9 3
     NYork    27 0 4 0

  2B - Martin (23); K Lofton (14). 
HR - Furcal (10), Garciaparra (16). 
S - H Kuo. RBI - R Furcal (54), 
Garciaparra (76), K Lofton (32). 
LOB - Los Angeles 9, New York 4. 
DP - 3 Furcal, Kent and Garciaparra; 
Furcal and Garciaparra, Kent, Furcal 
and Garciaparra).

  Dodgers  in h r-er bb so era
Kuo (1-4)  6.0 3 0-0 3 7 4.46
Tomko      1.0 1 0-0 0 0 4.56
Broxton    1.0 0 0-0 1 0 2.66
Saito      1.0 0 0-0 0 1 1.99
  Time- 2:26. Att- 52,077.

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