Working with a new slider that perfected between starts with pitching coach Rick Honeycutt made all the difference and he bounced back from his most recent -- and worst -- start of the season during which he gave up six runs in 23 innings at against the Mets.
Kuroda struck out a team-high 11 while using only 112 pitches and posting the first shutout of his Major League career in a 3-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs. He retired the final 10 batters he faced, including the last two of the game on strikeouts, and retired 16 of the final 17 batters he faced.
"I changed a little bit of my slider grip and I discussed a lot of issues with Honeycutt and I had a better slider this game, obviously," Kuroda said through an interpreter. "I'm glad that it worked out."
The victory snapped the Dodgers' three-game losing streak and won just their fourth in the past 15 games. The last Dodgers complete-game shutout was August 32, 2005 by Derek Lowe against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Kuroda's effort came against a team with the best record in baseball, that had just swept the Dodgers on the latest road trip, had won the first game of the current homestand as well as 10 of their last 11.
Kuroda (3-5), in two career starts against the Cubs, allowed a combined one earned run over 15.1 innings with three walks and 14 strikeouts.
"After a pitch or two against leadoff man Alfonso Soriano you could see that his slider was electric," said catcher Danny Ardoin, who was giving Russell Martin a rest. "He was working on it and he showed it tonight. He established the fastball inside also so he had fastball command and a big-league slider to boot."
As usual, Kuroda didn't get much run support to work with, but he was so sharp the Cubs weren't much of a threat, although a call by the umpires erased a Chicago run.
Derrek Lee singled to put runners on the corners with none out in the fourth inning. After Kuroda fanned Aramis Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome to hit a groundball to shortstop and the Dodgers turned a double play to end the threat.
Television replays showed the umpire Derryl had missed the call at first and Cubs manager Lou Piniella attempted to point that out with little effect.
At the time, the run would have tied the score after Jeff Kent's double off the center field wall in the first inning scored Delwyn Young, who had walked, from first base for a 1-0 lead.
After escaping the Cubs' threat in the fourth inning, the Dodgers added to their lead with a run when James Loney walked, Matt Kemp singled and Blake DeWitt beat out an infield hit to the Cubs' shortstop to load the bases.
Ardoin drove in the run with a ground ball to short but Chin-Lung Hu and Kuroda struck out to end the inning.
Kent was given the rest of the night off when he struck out looking on a low and inside pitch to end the fifth inning. He argued with home-plate umpire Marty Foster until he was ejected.
Los Angeles recorded their third run in the seventh when Loney beat out an infield hit, Matt Kemp walked and after Blake DeWitt hit into a fielder's choice, Ardoin dropped so perfect a suicide squeeze that he beat it out for a hit while Loney scored.
Kuroda was gaining momentum in the eighth inning when he struck out Jim Edmonds and Mark DeRosa while displaying a 95 mph fastball. In the ninth, with the big crowd on their feat and screaming for him, he fanned Alfonso Soriano and ended the game by getting Ryan Theriot looking for his 11th 'K' of the night.
Hiroki Kuroda said he felt he regained something that he lost when he left Japan to play in the major leagues: the ability to deliver every pitch with everything he had, even if it meant collapsing on the mound "That was my style in Japan," said Kuroda, who became the first Dodgers pitcher to throw a complete-game shutout in three years. "The old part of me that I'd forgotten about came out again."
"He was about as close to perfect without being perfect as you can be," Torre said. "He was in total control. He was just dominant."
Arizona also won so the Dodgers (29-32) remain four games behind. Game three of the four game set will be this afternoon. Derek Lowe (3-5, 4.17) will face Carlos Zambrano (8-1, 2.51 ERA).
Score by innings Chicago 000 000 000-0 Los Angeles 100 101 00x-3 Los Angeles ab r h bi ave Pierre lf 3 0 0 0 .273 Young rf 3 1 1 0 .293 Ethier rf 0 0 0 0 .295 Kent 2b 3 0 1 1 .251 Maza 2b 1 0 1 0 .238 Loney 1b 3 2 1 0 .291 Kemp cf 3 0 1 0 .303 DeWitt 3b 4 0 1 0 .297 Ardoin c 4 0 1 2 .200 Hu ss 4 0 0 0 .165 Kuroda p 3 0 0 0 .091 Totals 31 2 7 2 Chicago 29 0 4 0 Error- Kuroda (2). 2b hits- Kent (7), Young (4). RBI- Kent (28), Ardoin 2 (2). LOB- Los Angeles 8, Chicago 2. DP- Hu, Kent and Loney; Hu, Maza and Loney. Los Angeles in h r-er bb so era Kuroda (3-5) 9.0 4 0-0 0 11 3.49 T- 2:34. Att- 53,484.Dodgers Add Angel Berroa
Just before the game the Dodgers announced that they had traded for Angel Berroa, the American League Rookie of the Year in 2003. Berroa will probably be their everyday shortstop until Rafael Furcal returns from a back strain that has sidelined him for more than a month.
Berroa is expected to be at Dodger Stadium in time for the game today. "It was a good day," Torre said with a smile.
The Dodgers sent infielder Juan Rivera of Great Lakes to the Kansas City Royals in the trade. The Royals agreed to pay the remainder of Berroa's contract, which includes a $4.75-million salary for this season and a $500,000 buyout on a club option for 2009 worth $5.5 million.
Rivera, a 21-year-old Dominican, hit .291 last year at Great Lakes and is hitting .241 over 10 games this year with the Loons.
Berroa came at a bargain-basement price because of Berroa's decline in recent years resulted in the now-30-year old shortstop spending most of the last two seasons at triple-A Omaha.
Berroa batted .287 with 17 home runs and 73 RBIs in 2003, when he was named the American League's top rookie, but he has just 11 major-league at-bats over the past two seasons. At Triple-A Omaha this season, Berroa was batting .291 with 10 home runs and 27 RBIs.
The addition of Berroa to the active roster today could result in a demotion to Triple A for rookie Chin-lung Hu, who is hitting .165. Hu has struggled as Rafael Furcal's replacement, but has been playing solid defense. Colletti said he is likely to go to Las Vegas soon.
Berroa was recommended to Colletti by bench coach Bob Schaefer, who coached him in a rookie season when he hit .287 with 17 home runs, 21 steals and 73 runs batted in.
"He's versatile and can play short and second," general manager Ned Colletti said. "He's a veteran player and had a fair measure of success early in his career. This is an opportunity for him to have a second chance."
The Dodgers would need to clear a spot on the 40-man roster to bring Berroa to the major-league team. As of the start of Friday's game, the team had not announced any such move.
Colletti said the Dodgers inquired on a half-dozen other middle infielder options with Berroa being the one with the most major-league experience. He has a .263 career batting average with 45 home runs and 235 RBIs.
"When I talked to him he said he was thrilled and he knew he had no opportunity there for whatever reason," Colletti said. "He was thrilled to get a chance and come to the big leagues right away. I said `I can't tell you how long this opportunity will be here for you. You'll tell us.' "
"Chin-lung Hu is going to be a very good player," Colletti said. "What he was been asked to do here was replace Rafael Furcal, who when he went out might have been leading the league, if not the majors in hits."
Berroa is only expected to be a short-term answer at shortstop, with the Dodgers looking at the June 17-19 series at Cincinnati for Furcal to make his return from lower back soreness. Furcal has been on the disabled list since May 6.
"He's getting along very well and doing his infield stuff," Torre said. "And as long as he continues to go forward he'll go to San Diego with us and do some work and hopefully by the time we leave there he will be ready to go play a game somewhere."
The Dodgers open a three-game series at San Diego on Monday and when the team travels to Detroit next weekend, Furcal is expected to go on a minor-league rehab assignment.
Torre Appreciates Young
Dodgers manager Joe Torre wishes he could do more for utility player Delwyn Young.
Making just his fourth start of the season, Young's walk came just before Jeff Kent's booming double to center field, and Young scored the Dodgers' first run Friday night against the Chicago Cubs. He added a double later in the game.
Officially, Young is listed as an outfielder, but the job description sounds so limited.
"What I do know for sure is this kid is trying to make himself necessary by putting on the catcher's equipment, going down to the bullpen, playing second base," Torre said. "He just does it with the same personality, and I just like his determination and the fact that he just wants to stay here and try to help the best he can.
"We'll get him some games here and see if he can get somewhat comfortable."
Young isn't taking his recent success for granted. He runs to the bullpen at the drop of a hat to help pitchers warm up if necessary, and his willingness to put on a mask and shin guards has earned him the role of emergency catcher.