Stults Again Rides in to Rescue L.A.

It perhaps isn't the old formula, "the star is sick so you have to go on" and the understudy turns into a star, but it came close when opening day starter Hiroki Kuroda went on the DL with a strained side and Eric Stults was quickly recalled from Albuquerque to fill in and he worked into the sixth inning and held Arizona to a single run in a desperately needed 11-2 win.

The stumbling Dodger offense did its part, Orlando Hudson slugging a double and a three-run homer, Russell Martin, Casey Blake and Andre Ethier knocking in two runs and even the forgotten man, Juan Pierre, slapping an RBI single as the Dodgers evened their record at 3-3.

"Stults was great," manager Joe Torre enthused, whose youthful rotation now boasts three starters (Stults, Clayton Kershaw and James McDonald) with a whopping 10 career Major League victories.

"We saw him last year come up and pitch against Cincinnati and throw a lot of strikes and use his changeup when he was behind in the count. He worked fast, which helped him. And tonight he was aggressive, especially when behind in the count."

Stults, who has served as a blowout patch over bits four Major League seasons, is now 5-7 lifetime with a 4.66 ERA. But he has the delightful habit pulling off a big win in clutch situations like this one.

The 29-year-old left-hander gave up one run and six hits to the Mets during the 2006 pennant race; shut out the Mets for six innings in 2007; and gave up a single run over six innings in his first 2008 start, then beat the Chicago White Sox in his next appearance.

"It does seem like I've pitched well my first outing every year," Stults told Ken Gurnick of MLB. "I guess I feel I don't have anything to prove, and I just go out and I'm ready mentally and physically."

Stults was considered a viable candidate for the fifth starting slot when Spring Training opened but he was understandably stricken by the death of his mother Kathy days earlier and the job went to young James McDonald, who imploded in the third inning and lost Friday night.

She was in remission from breast cancer, with which she had been diagnosed two years earlier, but they discovered early this year that she had stage four cancer in her liver, and it was too late to do anything about it. She died a month later. Eric's dad, Dave, came to spring training from Indiana for a few days and spent some time with Eric and his family, which Eric said was tough on his father emotionally.

"I mean, it was tough. Early on, it was really hard to focus on baseball. When it's the death of your mom, you realize what's important. It was hard on my heart. But my livelihood was baseball, and it was time to move on. I know she enjoyed watching me and I know she enjoyed watching me tonight," Stults said. "She'll always be with me."

He held the Diamondbacks to a pair of hits over five innings but he served up a double to Chris Young, whose home run unnerved McDonald Friday night, and Steve Drew knocked him in with a single.

He threw a robust 95 pitches and Torre had seen enough. Rookie Ronald Belisario snuffed the rally and struck out three over 1.2 innings. Cory Wade and Jonathan Broxton mopped up, with Broxton allowing the final run.

And he benefitted from an 11-hit outburst that included doubles by Martin, Blake, Loney, Ethier and Hudson and a big home run by Hudson that broke an 0-0 tie in the fourth inning. The second baseman also knocked in two in the eighth.

Hudson homered and Russell slugged a two-run double in the third inning. They added five in the sixth and three more in the eighth to

LHP Randy Wolf starts this evening in the third game of the series.

 Score by innings
Los Angeles	000 305 030-11	
Arizona	        000 001 001- 2

Furcal ss	5  0  1  1  .261
Hudson 2b	4  2  2  3  .292
 Wade p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
Ramirez lf	2  2  0  0  .263
 Pierre lf	1  0  1  1  .500
Loney 1b	4  2  1  0  .348
Martin c	4  1  1  2  .150
Ethier rf	5  1  1  2  .238
Kemp cf	        4  1  1  1  .348
Blake 3b	4  1  2  1  .200
 Loretta 3b	0  0  0  0  .000
Stults p	2  0  0  0  .000
 Belisario p	0  0  0  0  .000
 DeWitt ph-3b	1  1  1  0  .167
-----------------------------
 Totals	        36 11 11 11
 Arizona	32  2  6  2

 Error- Belisario (1). 2b- Martin (2), Blake
(1), Loney (1), Ethier (1), Hudson (1). HR-
Hudson (1). RBI- Hudson 3 (3), Martin 2 (3),
Ethier 2 (4), Kemp (4), Blake (5), Furcal
(1), Pierre (1). S- Stults. SF- Kemp. LOB-
Los Angeles 5, Arizona 6. DP- Blake, Hudson
and Loney.

 Los Angeles	in  h r-er bb so  era
Stults (1-0)	5.2  4  1-1  2  5  1.69
Belisario	1.2  1  0-0  0  3  0.00
Wade	        1.0  0  0-0  0  0  4.91
Broxton	        1.0  1  1-1  0  0  3.00
 T- 3:04. Att- 35,024,
Dodger Blue Notes --The Padres designated minor league INF Travis Denker for assignment. Denker was traded to the Giants for pinch-hitter Mike Sweeney and then he moved to the Padres. The Dodgers now have a chance to bring him back into the organization.

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