'Babe' Kuo Pitches, Hits in L.A. Win

Babe Ruth got his start this way, hitting so well the Yankees couldn't keep him out of the regular lineup. Kuo isn't quite there yet, he trails the Bambino by 713 homers, but he did it all Tuesday night, allowing the Mets one run and five hits over seven innings and followed home runs by Betemit and Kemp with a 412-foot drive of his own become the first Taiwanese-born Major Leaguer to hit a homer.

Along with all that good news, add that the Yankees beat Arizona and Tampa Bay mauled San Diego, moving the three clubs back into lockstep toward the N.L. West Division title.
 The standings:	 w-l     pct   gb
San Diego	36-27   .571   --
Arizona	        37-28   .569   --
Los Angeles	36-28   .563   0.5
Kuo flipped his bat into the air in celebration of the home run, violating one of the unwritten baseball laws that state, "Thou must not celebrate an accomplishment during a game, thus embarrassing the opposition."

But one might think that even the Mets, from rough-and-tumble New York, might just overlook this gaffe because of it's rarity. "I didn't mean to do that," Kuo said apologetically about the hot-dogging, "I hit it, I know I hit it hard."

It was an unlikely trio of Dodgers that belted consecutive home runs off of Mets' starter John Maine in the second inning. Wilson Betemit (408 ft.), Matt Kemp (447 ft.) and Hong-Chih Kuo (412 ft.) all drilled no-doubt-about it blasts on consecutive pitches and became the first Dodgers to hit three straight since Jeff Kent, J.D. Drew, Russell Martin and Marlon Anderson hit four last September 18.

Kemp shot was the first homer to reach the Loge Level since Olmedo Saenz did do on July 27, 2005. Kemp finished the night going 2-for-3 with two RBI and is now hitting .417 (10-for-24) in 10 big league games this season.   

Not to say he has arrived, but it's been a long, long road for the Taiwanese lefthander since he struck out seven of the first 10 professional hitters he faced, blowing his elbow out on the final strikeout. That was early in 2000 and he pitched seven games in 2001 and 2002, then missed all of 2003 with a second Tommy John operation.

With the win over New York, he has as many major league wins as T.J. operations. Seems a bit of a celebration of that and the surprising home run grant him a celebratory show of emotions.

The entire club might be excused if they celebrated a bit, with Kuo seemingly answering the want ad for a fifth starter in such an emphatic manner.

The sparkling, seven-inning effort came with Kuo working entirely out of the stretch. "I went back to it, and I pitched a little better," Kuo said after the game. "After my surgery, they sent me to the minors on a rehab, and I only pitched out of the stretch for the next two or three years before I ever went back to the windup. So it got to the point where I was just more comfortable pitching that way, and I have been ever since."

The win comes after a solid, six-inning effort last Thursday at San Diego in which Kuo out-pitched Padres' ace Jake Peavy only to see the "W" disappear when the bullpen blew a four-run lead in the ninth.

He allowed consecutive singles to David Wright and Carlos Delgado to begin the second, and with a stolen base mixed in it gave the Mets a short-lived, 1-0 lead. But Paul Lo Duca bounced into a double play, and in the bottom of the inning the Dodgers responded with home runs on three consecutive pitches for a 3-1 lead.

Manager Willie Randolph was pretty stuffy about Kou's mini-celebration, indicating that even the nicest guy sometimes succumbs to major-league stuffiness. It must be a money thing that the rest of us just don't understand

Kuo worked out of a first-and-second, one-out jam in the fourth inning by getting Shawn Green and Carlos Beltran to fly to left, and he cruised from there, retiring 14 of the last 16 batters.

Jonathan Broxton overwhelmed the Mets in the eighth and Takashi Saito retired the heart of the Mets order in the ninth for his 18th save in 19 chances.

The Dodgers had 10 hits, including two by Juan Pierre and a line single by Nomar Garciaparra, back in the lineup after sitting out two games because of a 5-for-30 slump (.167). Kemp and Betemit also had two-hits.        

Los Angeles is considering holding back Derek Lowe from starting in Toronto next week and having him pitch in Tampa Bay instead. Lowe is 5-8 with a 5.31 ERA at Rogers Centre/Skydome, but 9-3 with a 3.05 ERA at Tropicana Field. Little said he still wants to split up left-handers Randy Wolf and Hong-Chih Kuo, but did not say how or when. The Dodgers have a chance at a sweep when the series wraps up tonight with Brad Penny (7-1, 2.26 ERA) opposing Jorge Sosa (6-1, 2.64).
 Score by innings
New York	010 000 000-1
Los Angeles	030 001 00x-4

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	4  0  0  0  .283
Pierre cf	4  0  2  0  .277
Garciaparra 1b	4  0  1  0  .272
 Loney 1b	0  0  0  0  .250
Kent 2b	        4  0  1  0  .261
Gonzalez lf	3  1  0  0  .292
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Saito p	0  0  0  0  .000
Martin c	4  0  1  0  .297
Betemit 3b	4  1  2  1  .212
Kemp rf	        3  1  2  1  .417
Kuo p	        3  1  1  1  .200
 Ethier lf	1  0  0  0  .000
    Totals	34 4 10 4
    New York	31 1  5 1

 3B- Pierre (3). HR- Betemit (6), Kemp (1), Kuo (1).
RBI- Betemit (17), Kemp 2 (5), Kuo (1). SB- Kemp (1).
LOB- Los Angeles 8, New York 4. DP- Furcal, Kent
and Garciaparra.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Kuo (1-1)	7.0  5  1-1  1  4  3.60
Broxton	        1.0  0  0-0  0  2  3.86
Saito (sv 18)	1.0  0  0-0  0  2  1.67
 T- 2:34. Att- 42,438.
Three Homers a Rarity-- Three homers in an inning is very rare and three in succession is even more unique. Counting the four-in-a-row last year, it is the sixth time in club history it has been accomplished and the first time a pitcher participated in the onslaught.

Roy Campanella, Andy Pafko and Duke Snider slammed back-to-back-to-back homers in the 7th inning in the Polo Grounds against the New York Giants on April 19, 1952 as the Dodgers won 11-6. It was the first time in the history of the franchise it had been performed. Pafko also had hit a home run in the second and Carl Furillo had tagged Max Lanier for a grand slam in the fourth inning as the Dodgers set a club mark with five homers in one game.

The second time it occurred, the Dodgers were trailing 5-3 on June 29, 1956, when Duke Snider, Ransom Jackson and Gil Hodges homered in the last of the ninth to beat the Phillies 6-5 in Ebbets Field. Clem Labine was the winner in relief of Don Drysdale and Snider?s homer was the 250th of his career.

The first time three successive Los Angeles players hit home runs was August 31, 1980 in the second game of a doubleheader against the Montreal Expos. Montreal scored in the first and second inning against starter Don Sutton but in the last of the second, Ron Cey homered to left (#21), Rick Monday homered to right (#7) and Joe Ferguson homered to left (#6) to regain the lead for the Dodgers and Sutton coasted in to his ninth of the year by a 7-2 margin.

In Colorado, June 30, 1996, Mike Piazza, Eric Karros and Raul Mondesi hit three on successive pitches. It was also the first time in major league history that three former Rookie of the Year Award winners turned the trick. The game also featured six RBI by Raul Mondesi, six stolen bases by former Dodger EY Young and seven lead changes before the Rockies won the conclusion of wild four-game series 16-15 back when the ball was not dehumidified and baseballs flew everywhere in Coors Field.

Say Goodbye, Derek-- Pitcher Derek Lowe is telling friends that he won't be re-signing with the Dodgers when his $36 million, four-year deal runs out in 2008 - that he wants to test the free-agent market. He was acquired as a free agent on January 11th 2005. He was 12-15 in '05, 16-8 in '06 and his 6-6 this year while pitching in bad luck.

Miller's Control Not That Bad-- Tony Jackson of the Los Angeles Daily News reports that Greg Miller's control problems depends upon whom you ask about it. Some fear they have a Rick Ankiel-type problem on their hands. Ankiel is the St. Louis pitcher whose legendary bout with wildness became so profound that he now is trying to work his way back to the majors as an outfielder. However, Dodgers player development director DeJon Watson isn't one of those people. He says Miller's problem isn't that much of a problem - despite the fact Miller recently was demoted from Triple-A Las Vegas to Double-A Jacksonville to work it out. "He just hasn't been able to get enough innings, so this should give him a better chance to get his work in," Watson said. "Those guys in Triple-A, they have to be ready to go to the big leagues." Miller walked 46 batters - and hit seven others - in 28.2 innings at Las Vegas before being sent down. He has made one appearance at Jacksonville, in which he faced five batters, didn't retire any of them and walked four while giving up one hit. "But he was around the plate," Watson said. "He was missing just off the plate. He threw two quality strikes to one guy, around 94-95 mph."

*MA*S*H* 4077 Notes--Disabled pitchers Yhency Brazoban and Chin-hui Tsao threw on flat ground Tuesday, but neither is ready to throw off a mound as they recover from shoulder injuries. Ramon Martinez, who pulled a back muscle last week during warmups, played catch for the first time but has not begun swinging a bat. Jason Repko has begun playing catch and hitting off a tee, but he hasn't tested his surgically repaired torn hamstring with anything more strenuous than a moderate walk on a treadmill. He is not expected to return this year.

Dodger Blue Notes-- A subscriber by the name of Mike emailed us that we had made an error recently. "In a note on Russell Martin setting a Dodger record which was included in the posting of the June 10th game against Toronto the word catcher was left out as in Martin is the first Dodger catcher to have conseqcutive double figure years in stolen bases since Lew Ritter," he pointed out. Thanks, Mike. ...The Dodgers will welcome Japanese ambassador Ryozo Kata, Madame Hanayo Kato, Consul General Kazuo Kodama, Madame Keiko Kodama, Executive Director of Japan America Society Doug Erber and Meiko Erber to Dodger Stadium tonight. The group will meet Dodger Owner Frank McCourt, Dodger Vice Chairman and President Jamie McCourt and Dodger Pitcher Takashi Saito in front of the Dodger dugout. ...In support of the U.S. military and troops serving both domestically and overseas, the Dodgers will salute the U.S. Army before the game June 20, with 36 recently enlisted soldiers on the field for a ceremonial Future Soldier Swear In. Two soldiers who recently returned from Operation Iraqi Freedom will be on the field as well. Staff Sergeant Brent Schol will throw out the first pitch of the game. Schol won numerous awards for his courage and leadership during his tour in Iraq. Staff Sergeant Rudy Corona will serve as the catcher for the first pitch. Corona serves as an Army recruiter at the Carson (Calif.) recruiting station. There will also be a special ticket discount of 75 percent for military personnel.

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