It makes one respect Mark Twain all the more. He said, "there are lies, damn lies and statistics." But pitching (or hitting) in the Pacific Coast League will do that to your stat sheet. And for the Dodgers, it's like the Bluebird of Happiness thing, finding what you are looking for in your own back yard.
Stults may be searching for an apartment close to Dodger Stadium. Handed a five-run lead in the second inning, he cooled the second-best offense in the National League en route to a 6-4 victory over Colorado before 48,072 at Dodger Stadium.
"He was outstanding," the master of understatement manager Grady Little, said. "That was one of the best-pitched games we've had all year. He went right after the hitters and he was very impressive."
Colorado managed only three baserunners and excepting the two-run third inning, Stults was otherwise perfect. He used a fastball, which tops out at 92 mph, a nasty changeup and had good control to great advantage.
"Tonight was probably the best I've thrown the ball in a long time," Stults said, apparently realizing that he was getting a shot at the gold ring. "Any time you get an opportunity you want to take advantage. That was my goal tonight, just to get a quality start.
"I've got to give Russ [Martin] a lot of credit. The game plan he had was working tonight. He wanted me to pound them in with the fastball and keep them off my changeup away. And that's pretty much what we did. We kept them honest inside."
The 26-year-old left-hander doubled in the fourth inning, and also scored a run during the five-run second.
The Dodgers jumped on Rockies starter Josh Fogg for five runs in the second inning, earning their third consecutive victory. Garrett Atkins hit a two-run home run off Dodgers reliever Scott Proctor in the ninth but Takashi Saito got the final two outs for his 32nd save.
Six Dodgers banged out six hits in the big inning, including Jeff Kent's leadoff home run and Juan Pierre's two-run single. Third baseman Shea Hillenbrand singled and recorded his first major-league RBI since June 23.
Loa Angeles hadn't scored five runs in an inning since June 21 and had failed to score more than four runs in 10 of their past 14 games.
Stults exceeded anyone's expectations, since over his last three starts for the 51s he had worked 12.1 innings and had allowed 15 earned runs (a 10.98 ERA). But this night he hit the ground running, striking out four of the first six Rockies he faced, including some familiar names: Matt Holliday, Todd Helton and Garrett Atkins.
Stults stumbled briefly in the third and allowed a pair of runs, but quickly settled down and retired the final 13 batters he faced, leaving after 102 pitches. He now has a 1.93 ERA as a Major League starter.
"I've known Stultsy for a while," Martin said. "I know what he can do and it's good to see him do it at this level."
Pierre swiped his 50th base of the season in the second inning, making him the first Dodger to reach that total since Eric Young stole 51 in 1999. Pierre's single-season high is 65. Russell Martin and Andre Ethier were not so lucky, both of them were shot down attempting to steal second.
Little used Scott Proctor in the ninth after Jonathan Broxton had struck out the side in the eighth. But Atkins 18th homer cut the Dodger lead to 6-4 and Saito came to get the final two outs for his 32nd save in 35 attempts.
Jeff Kent tied Joe DiMaggio for 65th place on the career home run list with a solo shot in the eighth, his 361st of his career. Kent, who has more home runs than any second baseman in big league history, drove the first pitch of the inning over the center field fence.
Pierre chased Fogg with a two-out triple in the seventh and scored on a single by Mark Sweeney who made his first start in place of the slumping James Loney at first base after pinch-hitting five times. Pierre is hitting .377 during August.
Stults was drafted in the 15th round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft out of Bethel College in Indiana, made 19 appearances at three levels of the Dodgers' Minor League system that year, then underwent Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery.
He pitched only 10 games and 41 innings in 2003, then 19 games and 31.2 innings in 2004. Healthy again, he split the 2005 season between Jacksonville, where he had a 3.31 ERA, and Las Vegas, where he struggled with a 6.58 ERA. Back at Las Vegas in 2006, he went 10-11 with a 4.26 ERA.
The Dodgers have won 20 of their last 28 games against Colorado. They have 129 wins all-time against the Rockies, more than any other team in baseball. Only Atlanta's .641 winning percentage is better than the Dodgers' .579 mark against the Rockies.
Chad Billingsley (7-4, 3.54) opposes Franklin Morales, who will make his first major league start tonight. Billingsley will be attempting to snap a four-game losing streak.
Score by innings Colorado 002 000 002-4 Los Angeles 050 000 10x-6 Los Angeles ab r h b ave Furcal ss 3 1 1 0 .278 Pierre 1b 4 1 2 2 .289 Sweeney 1b 4 0 1 1 .283 Martinez 2b 0 0 0 0 .170 Kent 2b 4 1 1 1 .281 Broxton p 0 0 0 0 .000 Proctor p 0 0 0 0 .000 Saito p 0 0 0 0 .000 Gonzalez lf 4 1 2 0 .280 Martin c 4 1 1 0 .289 Ethier rf 2 0 0 1 .295 Hillenbran 3b 3 0 1 1 .250 Stults p 2 1 1 0 .286 Loney ph-1b 1 0 0 0 .309 Totals 31 6 10 6 Colorado 32 4 6 4 2B- Gonzalez (22), Furcal (20), Stults (1). 3B- Pierre (6). HR- Kent (16), RBI- Kent (64), Ethier (48), Hillenbran (23), Pierre 2 (30), Sweeney (12). SF- Ethier. SB- Pierre (50). CS- Ethier (4), Martin (5). Los Angeles in h r-er bb so era Stults (1-1) 7.0 2 2-2 1 9 3.91 Broxton 1.0 2 0-0 0 3 2.35 Proctor 0.1 2 2-2 0 0 3.80 Saito (sv 32) 0.2 0 0-0 0 1 1.50 HBP- Furcal, Ethier. T- 2:37. Att- 48,072.Wolf To Try Out Wing Again-- Randy Wolf Wolf's left shoulder, which has kept him out of the Dodgers' rotation since July 3, is finally pain free, and Wolf will attempt to throw on the side next week, either Tuesday or Wednesday. It will be the first step toward a possible September return, but Wolf said that if he experiences any pain during or after the session, he will stop throwing and his 2007 season will be over.
Wolf last pitched in a rehab start three weeks ago, after which he experienced shoulder discomfort and stopped throwing. Wolf has been diagnosed with a shoulder impingement.
He has undergone treatment at the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic, where a specialist studied his shoulder mechanics and made suggestions about how to strengthen the shoulder.
Wolf has a $9 million team option for 2008. He signed a one-year, $8 million contract last winter. In 18 starts for the Dodgers, Wolf has a 9-6 record and a 4.73 ERA.
Dodger Blue Notes-- Jeff Kent and Luis Gonzalez have a combined total of 260 RBIs against the Rockies -- 39 more than the other 14 position players on the team have collectively against Colorado pitching. ...Dodger reliever Jonathan Broxton tossed a scoreless eighth inning and has not allowed a homer in 92 consecutive appearances (93.2 IP), setting a new Los Angeles record and moving past Paul Quantrill (2002-03). Broxton's streak is now the fifth longest in all of baseball since 1958. ...Dodger center fielder Juan Pierre became the fastest Dodger to steal 50 bases in a season since Davey Lopes swiped his 50th on August 9, 1975 on his way to 77 thefts. Pierre is the fifth Los Angeles Dodger to steal 50 bases, joining Maury Wills (4 times), Lopes (3 times), Steve Sax and Eric Young. The Alabama native also added two hits, giving him 45 multi-hit games on the season, which is tied for fourth in the National League. Pierre is a sizzling .377 (23-for-61) in the month of August. ...Last night's save was Takashi Saito's 32nd, tying him with Todd Worrell (1995) for eighth on the franchise single season charts. Saito is just the third Dodger to record 30 saves in a season along with Eric Gagné (3 times), Worrell (3 times) and Jeff Shaw (2 times). ...With 48,072 in attendance, the Dodgers passed the three million mark for the 12th consecutive season and extend their Major League record with 22 seasons of three million-plus. The Dodgers recently surpassed the 3.5-million mark in tickets sold, the fastest they have reached that mark since 1992.