Sizzling Furcal Sparks 9-7 Win

Rafael Furcal may not be still using that pink bat, but his bat is certainly blazing at any rate. The shortstop enjoyed his third consecutive four-hit game, becoming he first Los Angeles Dodger to do so, and has boosted his current streak to 14 hits in 16 trips, moving his average to .297.

He helped break the club's 10-game losing streak to the Cardinals in a 9-7 win Tuesday night. By finishing 4-for-5, Furcal is now hitting .476 (20-for-42) over his last ten contests.

As torrid as the streak is, the franchise record is 16 hits in four consecutive days, set by Milt Stock June 30-July 1, 2 and 3, 1925.

Furcal ran off eight hits in eight at-bats during his hot spell, just missing the record for consecutive hits (9), established by Ron Cey from July 2-4, 1977. The franchise record is held by Edward Konetchy, who smacked 10 straight hits over three games in 1919.

The fireworks were necessary because the Cardinals, apparently out of their hitting funk, erased a 3-0 first inning Dodger lead with four runs of their own in the third inning and added threw more in the seventh. Only six runs in the bottom of the third kept St. Louis out of the win column.

The six runs and solid relief pitching by Joe Beimel, Jonathan Broxton and Takashi Saito (save #12) that is.

Derek Lowe (4-4) starter, fresh off a complete game loss to Florida, and struggled to get through five innings, leaving with one out in the six having allowed four runs on eight hits.

Along with Furcal, Russell Martin and Andre Ethier drove in two runs each as the Dodgers snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Cardinals dating to 2005, the longest active losing streak to one team. The Brooklyn Dodgers won 14 in a row from the Cardinals in 1951 when teams played 22 games with each other.

In the all-time series, that started in 1892, the Dodgers lead the Cardinals 988-983. The win boosted Los Angeles to 24-16 and put them three games ahead of the Padres and the DBacks in the NL West.

Furcal has become the fifth major-leaguer to have three consecutive games of four hits in the past 55 years. Marcus Giles, Furcal's former teammate with the Braves, was the last major-leaguer to have threefour-hit games in a row, in 2003.

"He's one of the best players in this league," Dodgers manager Grady Little said of Furcal. "He's on fire. You don't want to touch him right now."

Closer Takashi Saito made it 12-for -12 in save opportunities when he retired the side in the ninth and has converted 22 consecutive save opportunities dating to last season.

Hong-Chih Kuo, just recalled from Vegas, had an inauspicious debut, could only get one Cardinal out before allowing three earned runs on four hits in in the seventh before Jonathan Broxton calmed the waters by striking out Scott Spiezio and Aaron Miles, then retired the Cardinals in order in the eighth inning.

Lowe (4-4) was nailed for four earned runs in the third, but left with one out in the sixth leading 9-4 with Joe Beimel getting the final two outs of the inning.

Furcal opened the game with a single and with two out, Jeff Kent and Luis Gonzalez walked and Martin was hit by a pitch to force in the initial run. Andre Ethier's single up the middle made it 3-0.

The Cardinals tacked Lowe for three runs in the top of the third but a six run response carried the day in the bottom of the inning, sparked by a bases loaded triple from -- who else? -- Rafael Furcal.

For the record: Furcal had two hits, a walk and an RBI in his final three plate appearances Saturday night against Cincinnati. In Sunday's game against the Reds, he went 4-for-4 with two doubles, a sacrifice bunt, two stolen bass, and an RBI and two runs scored. In the opening game of the Cardinal series Monday night, he went 4-for-5 with an RBI. Tuesday night he went 4-for-5 with the triple, three RBIs and two runs scored.

In an extremely difficult game, where six hits a week is considered very good, 14-for-15 borders on the near impossible.

Randy Wolf (4-3, 3.94) opposes Kip Wells (1-7, 6.51) tonight in the series finale. Wolf is coming off seven scoreless innings in a win against Cincinnati on Friday.
 Score by innings
St, Louis	004 000 300-7
Los Angeles	306 000 00x-9

 Los Angeles	at r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	5  2  4  3  .297
Pierre cf	5  1  1  1  .281
Garciaparra 1b	4  0  1  1  .291
Kent 2b	        4  2  1  0  .300
Gonzalez lf	3  2  1  0  .271
 Kuo p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Saenz ph	1  0  0  0  .276
 Saito p	0  0  0  0  .000
Martin c	3  1  2  2  .321
Ethier rf	4  0  1  2  .262
LaRoche 3b	1  1  0  0  .300
Lowe p	        3  0  0  0  .118
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Clark lf	1  0  0  0  .250
   Totals	34 9 11 9
   St. Louis	39 7 12 7

 Error- LaRoche (1). 2B- Kent (10), 
Pierre (4), Martin (11). 3B- Furcal (1). 
RBI- Martin 2 (25), Ethier 2 (21), Furcal 
3 (13), Pierre (9), Garciaparra (25). 
LOB- Los Angeles, 8, St. Louis

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Lowe (4-4)	5.1  8  4-4  2  2  3.90
Beimel	        0.2  0  0-0  0  0  3.79
Kuo         	1.1  4  3-3  1  0  81.00
Broxton	        1.2  0  0-0  0  2  1.23
Saito (sv 12)	1.0  0  0-0  0  2  1.50
 HBP- Martin. T- 3:09. Att-36,954.
Kuo Recalled-- Before Tuesday night's game, the Dodgers called left-handed pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo from Las Vegas and designated for assignment infielder Wilson Valdez. Kuo becomes the 12th pitcher that manager Grady Little has talked about on the staff and provides depth to the bullpen.

Kuo was the in the running for the fifth-starter competition in Spring Training until he suffered a strained shoulder on March 16 pitching against Boston in an exibition game. Rehabbing at Las Vegas, Kuo was 1-1 with a 3.18 ERA in five games, striking out 19 with five walks in 11.1 innings.

Valdez is out of options, and the Dodgers have 10 days to trade, release or outright him to the Minor Leagues. Valdez hit .236 with five RBIs in 28 games this season. GM Ned Colletti said that there has been trade interest in Valdez and that an attempt would be made to trade him. He said the decision to lose Valdez instead of Ramon Martinez was "a tough call."

Colletti also confirmed that pitcher Joe Mays asked for his release as we reported recently. Mays, a former 18-game winner with Minnesota, was 1-2 with a 5.16 ERA at Las Vegas.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Jeff Kent hit his 511th career double in the third inning to move into a tie for 37th place with Mark Grace on baseball's all-time list. ...Jason Schmidt is playing long-toss with trainer Stan Conte and will probably throw off the bullpen mound as soon as Wednesday. ...Former Dodger Raul Mondesi was shown on the Dodger Vision screen and was serenaded by boos. ... Single-A Inland Empire catcher Lucas May was named the organization's player of the month while Clayton Kershaw and Francisco Felix of Single-A Great Lakes were named co-pitchers of the month. ...Dodger reliever Rudy Seanez made an extremely rare plate appearance tonight, striking out in the bottom of the third inning. Seanez is now 0-for-5 in his big league career with one walk and one run scored. His last plate appearance and only time on base came on June 20, 1999 when he drew a four pitch walk from Arizona left-hander Dan Plesac and came around to score. ...The Cardinals' win tonight was their 9,000th in their franchise history. The Redbirds trail the New York/San Francisco Giants (9,495), New York Yankees (9,306), Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers (9,260) and Pittsburgh Pirates (9,077) on the all-time wins list since 1892.