Kuo and DeWitt Dodger Heros de Jure

The Dodgers hottest hitter, Rafael Furcal, was sidelined by a stiff back but the Big Blue Machine just rolled along without him, topping the New York Mets 5-4 behind the relief pitching of Hong-Chih Kuo and the magic of uberrookie Blake DeWitt, who hit a two-run, inside the park home run to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 win.

Furcal's back tightened up on him late in first game of the series, didn't improve before the game and was given the night off. Trainer Stan Conte said it was nothing major but "Sometimes it's better to take a day or two off to prevent you from losing three or four later."

Furcal, second in the majors with a .369 average, was the only player to start each of the Dodgers' first 31 games.

Rookie third baseman Blake DeWitt was 3-for-4 and drove in four of the five runs and Hong-Chih Kuo struck out a career-high eight batters in 3.2 innings of sparkling, scoreless relief of starter Hiroki Kuroda as Los Angeles won their 11th game in the last 12 and 12 of 14.

The Dodgers and Arizona both won and are putting a distance between themselves and the rest of the National League West as San Francisco, Colorado and San Diego all lost. The Giants are eight back and both the Rockies and Padres trail by 10.

Trailing 4-3, DeWitt's winning shot was nearly caught by right fielder Ryan Church at the top of the wall, the ball bouncing back toward the infield.

"I thought it was out," Church said after the game. "Once I hit the wall and came down, I was already on my back and I forgot where I was. I couldn't really tell by the crowd or anything. The next thing I know, I look up and saw guys running and the umpire coming out there saying it was still in play."

Third base coach Larry Bowa never hesitated to DeWitt home. "The guy's a good outfielder [Church], and I thought he was going to catch it," Bowa said. "But when I saw the ball hit the top of the fence and I saw Church lose his balance and go down, the ball didn't kick towards center field and the center fielder was nowhere near it. So I just said, 'Go!' "

DeWitt, who said the last inside-the-park home run he hit was in tee-ball, said, "I never would have dreamed I would have gotten an inside-the-park home run. It's hard enough for me to get a triple. I was pretty shocked that Larry was waving me around. It took everything I had to get from third to home."

The amazing rookie third baseman boosted his average to .317 with a two-run single among his three hits. The inside-the-parker was the first by the Dodgers since 2003.

Kuo (2-1) saved Kuroda after one of his worse starts, although two of the four runs he allowed were unearned. He retired only nine of the 22 batters he faced, one on a double play. The right-hander was charged with four runs and eight hits over 3.1 innings and he failed to complete five innings for the first time.

He served up a solo home run to Ryan Church in the first and his throwing error in the second led to two New York runs that put the Dodgers in a 3-0 hole.

A single by Juan Pierre, who started his sixth consecutive game, drove in DeWitt to close the gap to 3-1 in the second, but Moises Alou stole home on a double steal to extend the margin 4-1.

With the bases loaded in the third, DeWitt singled past the first baseman to slice New York's lead to 4-3.

Kuroda was relieved by Kou in the fourth inning and the lefthander went 3.2 innings without allowing a hit or a run, matching his career high of eight strikeouts in the process, nailing eight of the 12 batters he faced.

Kuo's strikeout total was the most by a Dodgers reliever since 2002 and now has an 0.46 career ERA against the Mets in regular season play. He has ridden in from the bullpen on his white horse to save the Dodgers' twice in the past four days.

Three of his first four big league victories have come at the Mets' expense. On Sept. 8, 2006, he beat them 5-0 at Shea Stadium for his first career win. Last June 12 at Dodger Stadium, he beat them 4-1 and hit a 412-foot homer, flipping his bat away as he left the batter's box and infuriating the Mets with his actions. He later apologized, saying it was his first home run ever and he didn't really know how to react.

Jonathan Broxton pitched a scoreless eighth and closer Takashi Saito earned his fifth save despite giving up back-to-back, two-out singles.

The Dodgers improve to 19-14 with their 10th win in their past 11 games, and they remain three behind the Snakes. The Mets will start John Maine (3-2) vs. Brad Penny (5-2) in the final game of the series.
 Score by innings
New York	121 000 000-4
Los Angeles	012 020 00x-5

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Pierre lf	5  0  1  1  .316
Jones cf	4  0  1  0  .162
Kemp rf	        3  0  1  0  .330
Kent 2b	        3  1  0  0  .277
Loney 1b	4  1  2  0  .278
Martin c	3  1  1  0  .297
DeWitt 3b	4  2  3  4  .317
Hu ss	        4  0  1  0  .229
Kuroda p	2  0  0  0  .154
 Kuo p	        2  0  0  0  .333
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Young ph	0  0  0  0  .375
 Saito p	0  0  0  0  .000
  Totals	32 5 10 5
  New York	39 4 11 3

 Error- DeWitt, Kuroda. HR- DeWitt (2).
S- Kuroda, Young. SB- Pierre (11), Kemp 2
(9). LOB- Los Angeles 9, New York 13.
DP- Kuroda, Martin and Loney.

 Los Angeles	 in  h  r-er bb so  era
Kuroda 	        3.1  8  4-2  3  1  3.95
Kuo (2-1)	3.2  1  0-0  1  8  2.59
Broxton	        1.0  1  0-0  0  3  1.80
Saito (sv 5)	1.0  2  0-0  0  1  1.76
 HBP- by Kuo. T- 3:12. Att- 43,927.
Torre Again Making History
Last night was game No. 4,000 in the history of Dodger Stadium and another milestone in the managerial career of Dodger skipper Joe Torre. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Torre also managed the 1,000th game at both the Astrodome (1977) and Coors Field (2007), the 2000th game at Busch Stadium in 1991, the 3000th game at Angel Stadium in 2003, and the 6,000th game at Yankee Stadium in 2001.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Jason Schmidt hadn't recovered from his last simulated game so his rehab assignment is delayed further. And Tony Abreu has been shut down again because of more tightness in his side, which flared up again after he played a game in extended spring. He is shut down for at least three days. ...The Dodgers are beginning a stretch of playing 25 straight games against teams outside of the National League West Division. The Dodgers also have a Major League-high .310 batting average (165-for-532) and a big league-best 104 runs scored beginning April 21. ...The Dodger bullpen continued its spectacular work, posting a 1.06 ERA (5 ER/42.1 IP) over the club's last 11 games. During that stretch, the ‘pen is 6-0 while limiting the opposition to a .185 batting average and fanning over eight batters per nine innings. Dodger southpaw Joe Beimel is unscored upon in five outings during this stretch and has picked up three victories. Takashi Saito has two saves and a 1.13 ERA (1 ER/8.0 IP). Hong-Chih Kuo has allowed just one run in 9.1 innings (0.96). Right-handers Jonathan Broxton and Scott Proctor have combined to allow one run in 10.2 innings since April 25. Chan Ho Park has allowed one run in 7.0 innings, and Cory Wade one earned run in 5.0 frames.

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