Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully recalled a game in 1951 at Cincinnati's Crosley Field, where Robinson received pre-game death threats. Teammate Gene Hermanski suggested during a pre-game clubhouse meeting that all the players wear No. 42, suggesting it would confuse any potential assassin. The facetious comment did break the tension. Some 60 years later, Hermanski's suggestion has been taken to heart.
After a spring-long search for a fifth starter, the Dodgers came up with Hong-Chic Loaiza, or Esteban Kuo if you please. The two combined to limit a hot Pittsburgh team to only five hits and a pair of runs. Kuo is the first left-hander to make a start for the Dodgers since Eric Stults got the call on the final day of the 2007 regular season.
Kuo's first inning wildness cost him an easy win. He was making his second start this season and threw 75 pitches over four innings -- 32 in the first. The left-hander threw 10 consecutive balls during one wild stretch, allowing a run and two hits, struck out six and walked three before handing things over to Loaiza.
"We were going to let him go 80-85 (pitches), but once he finished that inning with 75 pitches, that was enough," manager Joe Torre said. "The first inning is what knocked him out of the box. He's intriguing, there's no question about it."
Loaiza (1-2) worked the final five innings and allowed a run and three hits, struck out two and walked none. The right-hander, who made his big league debut with the Pirates in 1995 and has pitched for seven other teams since, is 2-0 in two appearances against them.
Kuo issued a bases-loaded walk in the first to give Pittsburgh the lead, but the Dodgers pulled ahead 3-1 in the fourth on a two-run double to left by Andre Ethier and Loney's run-scoring single. It was Loney's 14th consecutive game with a hit.
Loney trails Steve Garvey has the franchise record at 21 consecutive games in 1978 and Ron Cey is second at 17 games in 1977. Loney, who is batting .365, also has a hit in 22 of 23 games dating to last season.
Los Angeles scored five runs with two outs and put the game out of reach, boosting the lead to 8-1 in the fifth. Rafael Furcal had an RBI single. Matt Kemp slammed a long triple to center field and Ethier was hit by a pitch before Kent drove a 2-1 pitch deep into the left-field pavilion.
Kent's third homer of the season made the rest of the game moot and increased his RBI total to 1,468, moving him past Rusty Staub for 50th place. Kent's 368 homers, the top total for a second baseman, tie him for 65th place on the career list with teammate Andruw Jones, who hasn't hit a homer since Sept. 19 with Atlanta.
Two of the slumping Dodgers, Andruw Jones and Russell Martin, broke out. Jones went 2-for-3 with a walk and scored two runs. Martin homered in the eighth, his first round-tripper of the season.
The Dodgers different look wasn't all about the big '42' each wore on his back. At one point in the game they were 6-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
Kent's homer didn't escape Torre.
"Isn't that something? A Dodgers second baseman had a home run on Jackie Robinson Day," manager Joe Torre said. "Of course, you could pick any one of them. Jackie played all over the place, third base, second, first base. You can have your choice. They all contributed tonight."
With a season-high tying 13 hits, the Dodgers now have at least 10 hits in four of their past five games.
After being held to one hit through the first three innings, Ethier sliced a two-run double down the left-field line and James Loney followed two batters later with an RBI single.
In the final game of the series RHP Brad Penny (1-2, 3.86 ERA) and will be opposed by LHP Paul Maholm (0-1, 4.35 ERA).
Score by innings Pittsburgh 100 000 010- 2 Los Angeles 000 350 12x-11 Los Angeles ab r h bi ave Furcal ss 5 2 2 1 .364 Kemp rf 4 3 2 1 .297 Ethier lf 3 2 2 2 .308 Kent 2b 4 1 2 3 .261 Hu 2b 0 0 0 0 .222 Loney 1b 4 0 1 1 .365 Martin c 4 1 1 1 .184 Jones cf 3 2 2 0 .149 DeWitt 3b 3 0 1 0 .261 Kuo p 1 0 0 0 .500 Loaiza p 1 0 0 0 .000 Totals 32 11 13 9 Pittsburgh 31 2 5 2 2b hits- Furcal (7), Ethier (5), Jones (2). 3b- Kemp (2). HR- Kent (3), Martin (1). EBI- Ethier 2 (11), Loney (6), Furcal (5), Kemp (3), Kent 3 (9), Martin (5). S- Loaiza 2. SB- Kemp (1), Furcal (2). CS- Loney 2. LOB- Los Angeles 2, Pittsburgh 6. Los Angeles in h r-er bb so era Kuo 4.0 2 1-1 3 6 0.84 Loaiza (1-2) 5.0 3 1-1 0 2 4.63 HBP- Ethier. T- 2:39. Att- 37,896.Garciaparra is Ready
Back from a minor league rehabilitation assignment with Las Vegas, Nomar Garciaparra is set to be activated in time for a five-game trip that begins Friday in Atlanta. Garciaparra played three games in Sacramento and ended the assignment by going three for three Monday night with a double, a run batted in and a walk.
He was 0 for 7 in his first two games. Garciaparra, who was out because of a microfracture in his right wrist, still feels pain in his hand. He said it doesn't affect him and he hasn't had to make any adjustments to his swing.
Because of questions concerning Garciaparra health, the club will probably keep rookie Blake DeWitt on its major league roster. DeWitt has started every game at third base in the absence of Garciaparra and Andy LaRoche, and, if sent down, would be ineligible to be recalled for 10 days. Pitcher Ramon Troncoso may be the odd man out.
LaRoche threw across the diamond for the second day in a row and remains on track to travel with the Dodgers to Atlanta, from where he will go to extended spring training in Vero Beach, Fla.
However, third-string third baseman Tony Abreu, who is already in Vero Beach, has been shut down because of pain in his groin.
Dodger Blue Notes-- Even the Empire State Building turned Dodger Blue to coincide with the celebration of Jackie Robinson Day throughout Major League Baseball. ...ESPN Films has agreed to co-produce a film about Jackie Robinson and Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey and their struggle to break baseball's color barrier in the late 1940s. The untitled project will be produced by Robert Redford and Tracy Falco. Redford will star in the role of Rickey, making you wonder if anyone is still around who remembers what Rickey looked and sounded like. ... Torre called Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain earlier in the day to express his concern regarding the condition of his father, Harlan, who is hospitalized in Lincoln, Nebraska. Torre had met the elder Chamberlain last season at Yankee Stadium.