"It was a very exciting week for me," said Stults. "Any pitcher wants to stay in and get the win. I kind of battled with myself today. A lot of pitches came back across the plate. I wasn't sharp, but we got the win."
Stults did deliver the hit-and-run single in the two-run third inning. He put the ball into play, forcing Giants shortstop to reverse his direction and then he threw it into the stands.
He opened the fifth by allowing a pair of hits and then manager Joe Torre pulled one out of his hat. After being hammered in a 5-2 loss to the Giants the night before, Brian Falkenborg, who had allowed three innings while retiring one Giant batter, again got the call in a clutch situation.
This time Falkenborg (1-1) retired all three batters he faced. getting a pair of popups and a strikeout and earned the win. It was his second in the majors and first since May 9, 2004, when he was the pitcher of record in a 14-inning Dodgers win at Pittsburgh.
A lesser manager might have hidden Falkenborg in the bullpen until he had time to send for another arm, but Torre put him right back up on the horse and he responded.
"To be perfectly honest, this is the first time in my big league career that I've been asked consistently to pitch when the game hangs in the balance and that's what you strive for and they're letting me do it here," said Falkenborg. "I think Joe sees I can compete and I'm glad I'm getting the opportunity."
"My last win for the Dodgers was four years ago on Mother's Day. Wins are like the Olympics for me, I guess."
He was followed by Hong Chic Kuo and Jonathan Broxton who shared three shutout innings. Takashi Saito surrendered a run in the ninth but saved his 16th game in 19 opportunities.
The Dodger rejuvenated offense was led by first baseman James Loney who slammed an RBI double in the fist and drove in two more in the fifth inning with another two-bagger. The important hits came with 0-2 and 1-2 counts.
"Loney is one of those hitters you just have to shake your head," Torre said. "He has an at-bat where he looks overmatched and all of a sudden he fires a double down the line."
Ethier added three hits and drove in a run in the third as did Matt Kemp. Loney's last double made it 5-2.
Giants starter Matt Cain gave up five runs and eight hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out five to fall to 0-4 against Los Angeles, the only NL West team he has yet to beat.
Ethier improved his average against Cain to .625 (10-for-16) and Saito is 3-0 with 12 saves in 24 games against the Giants.
And Tony Jackson of the Los Angeles Daily News seemed to sum up the new Dodgers' attitude:
"Perhaps the most telling sign of this newfound chemistry came in the second inning of Saturday night's loss. With the bases loaded, two outs and the Dodgers leading 2-0, Giants left fielder Fred Lewis pulled a ball through the right side of the infield that had two-run single written all over it. But 40-year-old second baseman Jeff Kent, he of the allegedly limited range, made a diving stop to his left and threw from his knees to get Lewis.
"On their way off the field, Kent, who at times has been a vocal critic of the Dodgers' young, unproven and sometimes-cocky stable of promising young talent, and Kemp, perhaps the poster child for that brash bunch of youngsters, exchanged a high five so forceful that their hands must have tingled for several seconds afterward. Shared emotions like that aren't borne out of fractured clubhouses."
And Torre agreed. "The personality right now is good," he said. "It just seems like a loose bunch with a great attitude. It's just the fact that these guys are into the game. Not that they didn't care before, but they're really into it at this point in time. I think that is the change I sense.
"To me, it started on this road trip. After beating the Angels two out of three (to complete the most recent homestand), it may have been one of those things where all of a sudden, they took stock of the situation and said, `Hey, maybe we're pretty good."'
Arizona beat San Diego and the Dodgers continue to hang 1/2 game behind. And there is a little more spring in the Dodgers step as they return to Dodgers Stadium to host Atlanta. The Diamondbacks have the night off.
Score by innings Los Angeles 102 020 000-5 San Francisco 100 100 001-3 Los Angeles ab r h bi ave Kemp cf-rf 4 1 1 1 .283 Ethier rf-lf 4 2 3 1 .287 Martin c 4 0 1 0 .305 Loney 1b 4 0 2 3 .302 DeWitt 3b 3 0 0 0 .256 Young lf 2 0 0 0 .260 Jones cf 1 0 1 0 .161 LaRoche 2b 3 0 0 0 .189 Kuo p 0 0 0 0 .286 Garciaparra ph 0 0 0 0 .263 Broxton p 0 0 0 0 .000 Saito p 0 0 0 0 .000 Berroa ss 4 1 1 0 .197 Stults p 2 1 1 0 .200 Falkenborg p 0 0 0 0 .000 Maza ph-2b 2 0 0 0 .219 Totals 33 5 10 5 San Francisco 35 3 10 3 Error- Stults (1). 2b hits- Loney 2 (22). RBI- Loney 3 (47), Kemp (45), Ethier (39). SF- Ethier. SB- Martin (9), Kemp (19). LOB- Los Angeles 6, San Francisco 9. Los Angeles in h r-er bb so era Stults 4.0 7 2-1 2 4 2.22 Falkenborg (1-1) 1.0 0 0-0 0 1 7.71 Kuo 2.0 1 0-0 0 1 1.79 Broxton 1.0 0 0-0 0 1 3.62 Saito (sv 16) 1.0 2 1-1 0 1 2.39 Balk-Kuo. T- 2:55. Att- 38,290,Martin Selected to All-Star Squad
Russell Martin learned he'll get his first look at Yankee Stadium July 15 playing in his second All-Star game as the only Dodger representative.
Martin, who was the NL's starting catcher last year, made the team as a reserve. He finished sixth in fan balloting among NL catchers, receiving 1,011,539 votes. Geovany Soto of the Chicago Cubs was the leading vote-getter in the NL at the position, receiving 3,096,135 votes.
"I was nervous last year, my first time at an All-Star Game," said Martin. "This year, it'll be more relaxing and I'll enjoy it more. I've never played at Yankee Stadium and I'm fortunate to play there. A lot of guys will never have the opportunity."
The 25-year-old Martin, the first Canadian All-Star catcher, entered Sunday's play with team highs in batting average (.306), runs (47), walks (48) and on-base percentage (.403). He has nine home runs and eight steals, and he won the players' vote despite getting off to the worst start offensively (1-for-23) of his professional career.