Dodgers' Young 1-2 punch KO's Colorado

The Dodgers followed 24-year-old Chad Billingsley with 20-year-old Clayton Kershaw and the pair stopped the Rockies in the first two games of the series. Kershaw gave up only four singles in six innings to win his fourth game by a 5-1 margin and the Dodgers Magic Number dropped to 11.

Dodgers publicity reported that it was the first time No. 1 picks (Billingsley 2003; Kershaw 2006) won back-to-back games since Rick Sutcliffe (1974) and Bob Welch (1977), Sept. 19-20, 1979.

The 12th win in the last 13 games, coupled with a 3-2 Arizona loss to Cincinnati, increased the Dodgers to 4 1/2 games.

The win allowed Los Angeles to extract some measure of satisfaction after they lost seven times in the final month of the 2007 season to a Colorado team that went on a 13-1 late-season streak to reach the playoffs.

"We are hot right now," said Russell Martin, who knocked in a pair of runs. "We're hot at the right time just like they were last year. And like them, it hasn't been just one guy. Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake have given us something, but a lot of people have given us something over the recent stretch."

The victory came without any help from their two hottest hitters: Ramirez, who doubled in his first at bat and then was hitless in his next four, striking out twice and leaving three runners on base, and Andre Ethier, who went home to be with his wife Maggie for the birth of their first child in Chandler, Arizona.

The Dodgers (77-71) moved a season-best six games above .500 and have gained nine games on Arizona since breaking out of their eight-game losing streak at the end of August that had dropped them 4 1/2 behind the Diamondbacks.

Kershaw walked two and struck out seven while recording his first win in Coors Field. He was tagged for five runs and 10 hits in three innings in his last appearance here on July 22.

The bullpen again received an A+ rating, adding six strikeouts to the seven recorded by Kershaw.

In the rain and whipping winds, Chan Ho Park fanned four in two innings while allowing only one hit and Jonathan Broxton punched out two more in a scoreless ninth.

Casey Blake gave Los Angeles a 1-0 lead with a home run, his ninth, into the left field seats leading off the second inning.

Colorado tied the game with a two-out walk, a stolen base and Clint Barmes RBI single in the third.

In the fourth inning the Dodgers bounced starter Jorge De La Rosa, who had won five straight decisions at Coors field since May 8, for three runs to take a 4-1 lead.

Matt Kemp singled, Blake DeWitt walked and the surprising Angel Berroa doubled down the left field line to drive in the tie-breaking run. Martin added an RBI single and Juan Pierre's sac fly accounted for the fourth run.

Pierre received a rare start in place of Ethier. Pierre was 0 for 3.

DeWitt walked and Berroa smacked his second double in the sixth. Martin collected his second RBI with a ground ball to end the scoring.

Kershaw reversed the results from his first start in Coors Field after being recalled for the second time. "It's not really the stadium, it's me," Kershaw said. "This is a pretty aggressive, fastball-hitting team. That's what got me in trouble here last time.

"I've heard about Coors Field and I've heard pitchers talk about how you can't pitch here," said Kershaw.

"For me, I've got to see it to believe it. I'm like, there's got to be a reason. Guys say the ball flies here, it jumps off the bat. Obviously, there's some truth to it. At the same time, it's still baseball. I try not to think of stuff like that. It just messes you up."

Kershaw (4-5) dropped one curveball after another into the strike zone in an altitude that many claim doesn't allow the ball to break.

Manager Joe Torre praised Kershaw's approach from the time he first saw his remarkable debut in a spring training game, and he admitted that the young man is even more poised than he initially thought.

"We've asked him to do a lot," Torre said. "Sometimes he's had trouble slowing the game down, but he's never lost his composure."

The Dodgers had been concerned about the number of innings Kershaw should pitch at the tender age of 20. With two possible starts left in the season, he has has recorded 157.1 innings between the minor leagues and Los Angeles. Management started the year swearing to limit him to 170 innings.

Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt laughed when he was jokingly asked if he considered shutting down Kershaw for the year.

"It hasn't entered my mind yet," he said.

The old master, Greg Maddux has spent time talking about pitching with Kershaw since being acquired last month. He pointed out the positive way Kershaw has performed this season.

"His stuff is outstanding," Maddux said. "If he controls his fastball, he does what he did tonight. He controls the game as well as anybody."

Although Takashi Saito was activated from the 60-day disabled list, he wasn't used. Torre instead calling on Jonathan Broxton to close out the game. Torre had told Saito that he would pitch in the ninth inning if the Dodgers increased their lead to six.

In the final game of the series this afternoon, Greg Maddux (7-12, 4.24 ERA) will start for a Dodger team that is looking for a sweep. Maddux has more wins than any visiting pitcher in Coors Field history (8).

He needs one win to pass Roger Clemens for sole possession of eighth place on the all-time victories list.

Ken Gurnick of MLB.co, points out that if anyone wondered whether, at age 42, Maddux had lost any of the competitive juices that made him one of the all-time greats, they should know that when Colorado tagged him for eight runs and knocked him out in the fifth inning on June 30 while he was with San Diego, he smashed the door to club clubhouse with his bat when he left the game and was sent a bill for the repairs.

He's 1-3 since the Dodgers acquired him Aug. 19 and two of the losses have come against Washington and San Diego.

The Dodgers will face RHP Aaron Cook (16-9, 4.16 ERA) who has failed twice to match the Colorado record for wins (17) set by Kevin Ritz (1996), former Dodger Pedro Astacio (1999) and Jeff Francis (2007), for the club season record for victories (17).

 Score by innings
Los Angeles	010 301 000-5	
Colorado	001 000 000-1

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Martin c	5  0  1  2  .277
Pierre cf-lf	3  0  0  0  .270
Ramirez lf	5  0  1  0  .389
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
Loney 1b	4  0  1  0  .300
Blake 3b	4  1  1  1  .256
Kemp rf-cf	4  1  1  0  .286
DeWitt 2b	1  2  0  0  .265
 Hu 2b	        0  0  0  0  .164
Berroa ss	3  1  2  1  .238
Kershaw p	3  0  0  0  .080
 Park p	        0  0  0  0  .111
 Young ph	0  0  0  0  .246
 Repko rf	0  0  0  0  .200
  Totals	32 5 8 5
  Colorado	30 1 5 1

 Two-base hits Ramirez (10), Berroa 2 
(12). HR- Blake (9). SF- Pierre. 
RBI- Blake (21), Berroa (10), Martin 2 
(63), Pierre (26). CS- Pierre (10). 
LOB- Los Angeles 7, Colorado 4. DP- Loney, 
Berroa and Loney.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Kershaw (4-5)	6.0  4  1-1  2  7  4.41
Park	        2.0  1  0-0  0  4  2.88
Broxton	        1.0  0  0-0  0  2  3.25
 T- 2:38. Att- 40,291.
Dodgers Eye Japanese Pitcher
The Dodgers are among the teams that have scouted Japanese amateur pitcher Junichi Tazawa, who said this week that he would bypass the draft of his native professional league and sign with a major league club.

A team source said the Dodgers were taking a wait-and-see approach with the 22-year-old right-hander who pitches for Eneos Oil of the Japanese corporate league, as they've heard that he has already decided to sign with the Boston Red Sox. Tazawa is expected to command a signing bonus of at least $1.5 million.

Jones on 60-Day DL
Andruw Jones' ugly first season in Los Angeles ended when the veteran center fielder was placed on the 60-day disabled list to clear a 40-man roster spot for reliever Takashi Saito, who was activated from the 60-day DL.

After hitting 22 home runs and driving in 94 runs with Atlanta last season while hitting a career-worst .222, Jones signed a two-year, $36.2 million contract with the Dodgers over the winter.

It's been all downhill since.

He reported overweight, got off to a slow start and suggested in an interview that he wasn't bothered by his lack of production.

After undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in late May to repair torn cartilage, Jones asked club officials to activate him on July 4, two weeks ahead of schedule, after outfielder Juan Pierre went on the shelf with a knee injury.

Jones later reinjured his right knee when he stepped in a hole in the outfield while on another rehabilitation assignment with Las Vegas.

However, both Torre and Colletti said they believe Jones, 31, can return to his previous form, when he was a five-time All-Star during his 11-plus seasons with the Braves.

"He is a young man," Colletti said. "A lot of it is going to depend on what he wants to do. A lot of it is up to him. It has never been up to anybody else but him."

Dodger Blue Notes
...The Dodgers lost their hottest bat when right fielder Andre Ethier returned home to the Phoenix area to be with his wife for the birth of the couple's first child. It isn't immediately clear how long he will be gone. Pierre started in center field, with Matt Kemp moving to right, and Torre said the club will stick with that alignment until Ethier returns. ...Chad Billingsley, who earned his 15th win at age 24, is the youngest Dodger to reach the 15-win mark in a season since Ismael Valdes at age 23 in 1996. Ramon Martinez won 20 games as a 22-year-old in 1990 and then tallied 17 the next year at age 23. ... The Dodgers are 27-19 since acquiring Casey Blake and 31-22 when Angel Berroa starts at short. ...Manny Ramirez, who had 14 home runs and 40 runs batted in in his first 38 games with the Dodgers, is the first midseason acquisition to collect 14 home runs and 40 RBIs in the first 40 games with his new team since 1949, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Hank Sauer, who was traded by Cincinnati that season, had 15 home runs and 47 RBIs in his first 40 games with the Chicago Cubs. ...Hong-Chih Kuo, who received a cortisone injection in his arthritic left elbow Thursday, was unavailable out of the bullpen. Torre said he expected him to be back today. ...Jeff Kent has started hitting drills in Los Angeles and could take batting practice at Dodger Stadium when the team returns from Pittsburgh next week.

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