The night held throughout all of baseball to honor Robinnson, not only by each wearing his number 42 on their jersey, but by remembering what he did for all of us, both black and white and many shades in between. And this win would have made him smile because it was played -- by both sides -- the way he played, doing what it took to bring home a win.
Heros were plentiful on both sides of the field.
Lefty Clayton Kershaw, who turned 21 just about a month before the game, allowed one hit and struck out a career-high 13. He left the game after seven innings with a 2-1 lead and two of the more reliable members of the bullpen, Hong-chih Kuo and Ronald Belisario, players who grew up worlds apart and may not have been playing had it not been for Robinson, allowed three runs in the eighth.
The Dodgers fought back to tie the game and Jonathan Broxton, who almost never enters a game without it being a save opportunity, pitched a scoreless ninth inning to preserve the deadlock.
Manny Ramirez, hitless on his first four trips to the plate, doubled to the wall after red-hot Orlando Hudson (In the past four games, he is 9-for-18 with two doubles, a triple and two homers) opened the inning with his third hit of the game.
Andre Ethier was walked intentionally before Russ Martin bounced into a force at the plate. Then Loney, who had walked with the bases loaded in the first inning and had hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth, walked to force in the winning run.
The Giants had tied the game 1-1 in the top of the second on Bengie Molina's leadoff homer hit into the Dodgers bullpen in left field, the only hit Kershaw would allow. Blake slugged his third home run in the fourth to give Los Angeles a one-run lead.
Kershaw invoked memories of another Dodgers icon with his one-hit, 13-strikeout performance. He became the youngest to strikeout 13 since 10-year-old Sandy Koufax fanned 14 Cincinnati Reds for Brooklyn in Ebbets Field on August 25, 1955 in his second big league start.
"Pretty good company there," said Kershaw with a broad smile on his face.
He whiffed the side in the seventh and left the game having struck out five of the last six Giants he faced, reaching 105 pitches. When Doug Mientkiewicz came into pinch-hit for him, the Dodgers crowd voiced their disapproval, realizing that the bullpen hadn't been exactly reliable so far this young season.
"The kid was spectacular, he only deserved to win tonight's game," said Torre, even though Kershaw didn't get the win. "If he goes back out there, he's in a pitch count of 120 to 125 and he hasn't been there."
"For me, pitch count isn't a measure of being tired," he said. "You miss pitches up a lot, that's a sign. Maybe pitch count wears on you late in the season. It's not that big a deal, especially 105, that's not that many pitches. It's not my call, but I would have been fine to pitch the eighth." But he wouldn't second-guess his manager. "If Kuo is coming in with a one-run lead, I'll trust him every time. As a setup man, I wouldn't want anybody else. It's just one of those games."
"Without a doubt, the seven innings is more important than the strikeouts," said the young man. "Strikeouts are not that important to me, but seven innings is. That's the benchmark of a starting pitcher, how deep can you go. Five-and-dive is not what you need to do. That taxes the bullpen and taxes the team. The only thing I wanted tonight was to go deeper."
With a slim 2-1 lead, Kuo took over in the eighth and promptly hit Pablo Sandoval with a pitch, then surrendered a single to Rich Aurilia. Rookie Belisario took over and, on an 0-2 pitch, served up a three-run home run to Aaron Rowand, allowing his first runs of the year, including spring training.
The Giants had tied the game in the top of the second on Bengie Molina's leadoff homer hit into the Dodgers bullpen in left field, the only hit Kershaw would allow. Blake slugged his third home run in the fourth to give Los Angeles a one-run lead.
In the eighth, trailing 4-2, Andre Ethier singled and went to third when Martin doubled. On Loney's second sacrifice fly, Ethier scored and Martin took third. Matt Kemp tied the game with a clutch single to center.
In the ninth, Orlando Hudson singled and was doubled to third by Manny Ramirez then Ethier was walked intentionally to load the bases. Martin bounced into a forceout at the plate before Brian Wilson walked Loney on a 3-2 pitch.
The Dodgers, 6-3 with a four-game win streak, go for the sweep Thursday night, with Eric Stults opposing Barry Zito.
Stults (1-0, 1.69 ERA) replaced rookie James McDonald who was to the bullpen for a few days. Stults is coming off a strong performance for the injured Hiroki Kuroda. Stults allowed only one run over 5.1 innings in Phoenix, providing a bit of rest for a bullpen that was taxed the previous night in McDonald's 2 1/3-inning start.
Zito (0-1, 9.00 ERA) gave up four runs on seven hits in his first start of the season against San Diego. He allowed three first-inning runs and struck out three in the next two innings before allowing another run in the fourth. Zito also owns a winning record at Dodger Stadium, where he's 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA.
Score by innings San Francisco 010 000 030-4 Los Angeles 100 100 021-5 Los Angeles ab r h bi ave Furcal ss 5 0 2 0 .250 Hudson 2b 5 1 3 0 .368 Ramirez lf 4 1 1 0 .296 Ethier rf 4 1 2 0 .281 Martin c 4 1 1 0 .212 Loney 1b 2 0 0 3 .333 Kemp cf 4 0 2 1 .375 Blake 3b 3 1 1 1 .168 Kershaw p 3 0 0 0 .200 Kuo p 0 0 0 0 .000 Belisario p 0 0 0 0 .000 M'kiewicz ph 1 0 1 0 .250 Broxton p 0 0 0 0 .000 ------------------------------- Totals 35 5 13 5 Giants 30 4 4 4 Two-base hits- Kemp (3), Martin (3). HR- Blake (3). RBI- Loney (3 (8), Blake (6), Kemp (6). SF- Loney. CS- Furcal (1). LOB- Los Angeles 12, San Francisco 1. DP- Kemp and Loney. Los Angeles in h r-er bb so era Kershaw 7.0 1 1-1 1 13 1.50 Kuo 0.0 1 2-2 0 0 6.00 Belisario 1.0 2 1-1 0 1 1.59 Broxton (1-0) 1.0 0 0-0 0 2 1.80 HBP- by Kuo. T- 3:07. Att- 42,511.Kuroda Out for a While
Hiroki Kuroda is recovering slowly from a strained left oblique muscle but is not expected to be activated when he's eligible next Wednesday. Trainer Stan Conte said Kuroda is still "showing symptoms" from the oblique strain, which is not an injury "to push through" because it can linger for months. "They are notorious for coming back," said Conte.
Kuroda's discomfort is on the left side of his rib cage, and was allowed to play catch Monday, but Conte backed him off Tuesday and Wednesday pending an examination by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
Kuroda will probably need a Minor League injury rehabilitation assignment before coming back, so his return is more likely weeks away than days away. "He'll certainly need game situations," said Torre.
Tuesday's day off allowed Torre to juggle his rotation and push back rookie James McDonald, who is tentatively scheduled to start Sunday, but is in the bullpen in the meantime.
Abreu Out for a Month
Infielder Tony Abreu, who hasn't played for a month due to various injuries, suffered a high ankle sprain in a minor league game late during spring training and is at Camelback rehabbing. He was on crutches for a week and although he was doing better, Conte said these injuries are typically three- to six-week deals.
And Jason Schmidt threw 73 pitches in an extended spring training game and felt good afterward. He will make at least one more start at extended before embarking on a minor-league rehab.
Diamond Leung reports that Jon Debus and Scott Little were brought back to the organization, with Debus working as a professional scout and Little as an area scout in the Midwest. Debus has already earned his place in Dodgers lore. Years ago as a roving catching instructor, he recommended and assisted in Russell Martin's conversion from third base to catching.
Little managed the Vero Beach Dodgers from 2003-05, providing Class A instruction to Martin, Chad Billingsley, Jonathan Broxton (11-6 as a starter in 2004), Matt Kemp (27 home runs in 2005), James Loney and Delwyn Young (22 home runs in 2004).
Larry Barton was hired as a second national crosschecker, and he'll help assistant general manager Logan White make final determinations on amateur prospects before the draft. Barton, a former special assistant to Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky, apparently is no "yes" man and isn't afraid to express his opinion.
Dodger Blue Notes
It's certainly too early to spend much time with this sort of things, but with the win the 6-3 Dodgers moved into a tie with San Diego for first place in the West Division. ...With Chad Billingsley's 11 strikeouts Monday and Kershaw's 13 last night, Dodgers starters posted back-to-back 10-strikeout games for the first time since Sept. 23-24, 2000, when Kevin Brown and Chan Ho Park struck out 13 each. ...Kemp has hit safely in all nine games. ...Kershaw's walk to Aurilia was the first in four games for the Giants, who ended a string of 87 consecutive plate appearances without one going back to the eighth inning of Friday's loss at San Diego. ...Hudson, who on Monday joined Wes Parker (1970) as the only L.A. Dodgers to hit for the cycle, smiled broadly while presenting his 4-year-old son Orlando and 7-year-old daughter Kamari with bicycles at home plate before the game. They were gifts from his new club. ...Outfielder Juan Pierre's "Pierre's Pack" program enters its third season. The outfielder hosts kids from inner-city after-school programs at several games throughout the season.