He was the only pitcher with a pair of wins on the road trip.
"It's all about command," manager Joe Torre said. "He's putting the ball where he wants to."
The win ended the seven game road trip and after the Cubs had held Los Angles to three runs in the first three games. They improved to a MLB best 35-17 and went 20-9 in May, their best record since 1962 when the opened the brand new Dodger Stadium and had a 21-9 mark.
Milton made his 270th Major League start and his 89th win after opening the season at Albuquerque. He worked 5.1 innings and ran into trouble in the sixth inning and left with the bases loaded. Ronald Belisario took over and held the damage to two runs, lowering Milton's earned run average to 3.14.
Torre used his "A" relief team to make certain this one didn't get away. Belisario finished his 1.2 innings with a 2.30 ERA and then Ramon Troncoso (1.89) and Jonathan Broxton (0.72) mopped up.
A former All-Star who missed a year-and-a-half while recovering from Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, Milton's win solidified his spot in the rotation. Eric Stults was placed on the disabled list to that his jammed thumb could heal properly and Travis Schlichting from Albuquerque. Opening day starter Hiroki Kuroda is expected to be activated today and will start tonight against Arizona.
Milton started to struggle at about the 80-pitch mark, as he had in his first three starts when he threw 84 and 82 pitches. "I wish I could have gone deeper tonight," he said. "I guess it's something that'll come. I haven't gone seven innings all year."
The Cubs had won four of five after dropping eight in a row, but the Dodgers pounded Sean Marshall for eight hits and eight runs (seven earned) in 4.1 innings.
The Dodgers fell on Marshall with a flurry of hits, banging out five in succession. A two-run double by Mark Loretta, filling in for Casey Blake while his injured hamstring heals, and set to tone early. They rode the 5-0 lead, which was increased to eight by the sixth inning when the Cubs scored their only two runs.
Torre was pleased with Belisario's efforts in particular. "He was as tough as he can be," the Dodgers' manager said. "His sinker is really nasty."
Juan Pierre, Rafael Furcal, Orlando Hudson (RBI), Russell Martin, and James Loney (RBI) laced singles, Loretta chipped in with a double (two RBI) and Jamie Hoffmann's sac fly, his eighth RBI in nine games, ran up the tab to 5-0.
Hoffman also saved a run in the second when he dove to catch a looping line hit by Bobby Scales in right field, then fired a perfect one-hop throw out Martin at the plate to end the inning.
"That play on the potential sacrifice fly was amazing, from the kid catching it diving to getting up and throwing it to Russell making a very tough scoop and tag," Torre said.
Matt Kemp, who was 11-for-27 (.407) on the road trip, slugged his sixth homer in the third inning and they added two in the fifth when Martin walked and was doubled home by Loney. After Kemp singled he stole second (#12) and Loney scored on Geovany Soto's throwing error.
Furcal, Loney, Kemp and Loretta finished with two hits each as the Dodgers banged out 12 in all. The Dodgers are hitting nearly .290 and have scored 287 runs in their 52 games for a 5.5 runs per game average despite hitting only 36 home runs, 25th in the 30-team league.
Long Time Between Starts
After winning the opening game of the season, Hiroki Kuroda will make his second start of the season tonight in Dodger Stadium against Arizona. Although the medical staff has pronounced Kuroda ready for prime time, he was hit hard in a Class A rehab start with Inland Empire and the Dodgers will have Clayton Kershaw in the bullpen in case he is needed in relief of Kuroda.
Kershaw was scheduled to start on Monday, but will be pushed back to Thursday instead, assuming he is not needed in relief. The Dodgers wanted Randy Wolf and Chad Billingsley to remain on their regular five-day cycles and start Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
The Dodgers will probably boost the pitching staff back to 13 again and to make room for Kuroda, that would mean catcher A.J. Ellis, who was called up Friday when Will Ohman was placed on the DL and didn't see action, will be returned to Albuquerque.
The Dodgers will face RHP Billy Buckner (1-1, 7.16 ERA) who lost to the Padres in his last start.
Score by Innings Los Angeles 501 020 000-8 Chicago Cubs 000 002 000-2 Los Angeles ab r h bi ave Pierre lf 6 1 1 0 .374 Furcal ss 5 1 2 0 .245 Hudson 2b 5 1 1 1 .332 Martin c 3 2 2 0 .272 Loney 1b 5 2 2 2 .289 Kemp cf 4 1 2 1 .306 Loretta 3b 4 0 2 2 .321 Hoffmann rf 4 0 0 1 .200 Milton p 2 0 0 0 .000 Belisario p 0 0 0 0 .000 Ausmus ph 0 0 0 0 .344 Troncoso p 0 0 0 0 .000 Ethier ph 1 0 0 0 .256 Broxton p 0 0 0 0 .000 ----------------------------- Totals 39 8 12 7 Chicago Cubs 35 2 9 2 2B- Loretta (3), Loney (11). HR- Kemp (6). RBI- Hudson (31), Loney 2 (38), Loretta 2 (10)., Hoffmann (7), Kemp (30). SF- Hoffmann. LOB- Los Angeles 11, Chicago 8. SB- Kemp (12), Martin (7). DP- Hoffmann and Martin. Los Angeles in h r-er bb so era Milton (2-0) 5.1 6 2-2 1 4 3.14 Belisario 1.2 1 0-0 0 2 2.30 Troncoso 1.0 2 0-0 0 1 1.89 Broxton 1.0 0 0-0 0 2 1.44 WP- Troncoso. HBP- by Milton; Milton, Ausmus. T- 3:05. Att- 40,091.Dodger Blue Notes-- Loney had two RBIs for a team-high 38, tied for sixth in the league. ...The Dodgers were 5-for-16 with runners in scoring position after going 1-for-16 in the first three games. ...On addition to his sixth home run, Matt Kemp stole his team-leading 12th base. ..."It's not a fun thing to go on the DL, but it could be a good thing," said Stults, whose thumb was in a splint. "It's something that could bother me the rest of the year, but hopefully, with rest it'll he'll properly and heal quicker. The last two outings, I haven't helped the team the way I'd like to and hopefully, this will be the best thing." His replacement, Travis Schlichting, had a 0.66 ERA in nine appearances with Chattanooga after being limited by a bulging disc in his lower back during spring training. He will join Brent Leach, Eric Milton, Jeff Weaver, Jamie Hoffmann and (perhaps briefly) A.J. Ellis who all started the season at Albuquerque.