Hiroki Kuroda Chokes Off Marlins

Hiroki Kuroda had Takuya Kimura his mind when he took the mound for his first start of the 2010 season Friday night. He said he said he didn't want to diminish the memory of his longtime Hiroshima Carp teammate who had died of a brain hemorrhage on by dedicating his first victory of the season to him.

However his performance certainly honored his memory and was one of the best of Kuroda's Dodgers career as Los Angeles evened their record with an 7-3 win

Kuroda dominated the Florida Marlins, holding them to an unearned run over eight sparkling innings in the win. "To say that I pitched for Takuya-san and that it affected the outcome of the game would be making light of what happened," Kuroda said. "Instead of saying that I did this for him, I'd like to think that I have a renewed appreciation for being able to wear this uniform and take the field every day. That's something I learned from Takuya-san."

An infield coach for the Tokyo Giants, Kimura collapsed on the field during pregame fielding drills in Hiroshima last week. He was 37.

Kuroda (1-0) pitched as if his friend was watching.

His command was impeccable, allowing five hits and not earned runs while throwing 100 pitches, he worked through eight innings with his slider and sinker producing 14 ground ball outs and recording seven strikeouts.

Had it been later in the season, he could have easily recorded a complete game but leading 7-1, manager Joe Torre determined that was enough for his first start.

Kuroda finished the game by allowing five hits, an unearned run, walking one (intentionally) and striking out seven.

The only run off Kuroda came in the sixth inning. On a bunt single by Hanley Ramirez, catcher Russell Martin threw the ball down the right field line and one out later, third baseman Jorge Cantu singled to give the Marlins a 1-0 lead.

The Dodgers were throttled by starter Chris Volsted who allowed only two hits over the first six frames, a single by Rafael Furcal in the first inning and a single by Furcal in the third. He retired 11 straight Dodgers after Furcal's second hit before Los Angeles broke out of their funk and scored four times.

Manny Ramirez ignited the rally with a double to deepest center field and one out later, Casey Blake lined a double to left to tie the game 1-1. Blake DeWitt grounded a single to center, putting the Dodgers in the lead and Russell Martin walked.

Kuroda bunted the runners to second and third and Furcal was intentionally walked. The Marlins regretted that a moment later when Reed Johnson, playing right field for Andre Ethier who was held out of the game by a slight ankle sprain, bounced a ball to Ramirez at short.

Ramirez, a two-time All-Star, threw the ball past Dan Uggla at second base and two runs scored, putting Los Angeles in front 4-1.

Martin walked again in the ninth and Furcal's third hit, a double, set up James Loney who had been held hitless thus far in the game. The Marlins brought a left-hander in to face the Dodgers' first baseman but he drove a ball into the deepest part of the park that bounced into the center-field seats for a ground rule double and two more runs.

Manny Ramirez high pop into short right eluded the Florida fielders and dropped just inside the foul line, driving in Loney and putting the Dodgers up by six.

Before the Ramirez error, Jonathan Broxton was warmed and ready to go in but the additional three runs changed the Dodgers' plans and instead called on Russ Ortiz.

Ortiz allowed a looping single to center, collected a strikeout and then walked the next two Marlins to load the bases. That was enough for Torre and he called for Broxton.

The big reliever had apparently cooled off while Ortiz struggled and he served up a double to right by pinch-hitter Wes Helms.

Now Broxton was hot. In fact, he was fuming. He ratcheted up his fastball and struck out the next two Marlins, hitting 99 on the speed gun to dispose of the final batter.

The Dodgers finished with eight hits; three by Furcal and two by Ramirez. They left seven on base (Johnson and Loney four each) and were 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

Pitching probables:
The Dodgers complete the season-opening, six game road trip today and Sunday.
Saturday, RHP Vicente Padilla (0-1, 14.54) vs. RHP Josh Johnson (0-1, 7.20)
Sunday, RHP Charlie Haeger (0-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Anibal Sanchez (0-0, 0.00).

Dodger Blue Notes --The Dodgers have enjoyed great success in Sun Life Stadium over the last four seasons, winning 11 of the 14 last games since 2006. During that span, the team has outscored the Marlins 92-48. ...Andre Ethier suffered a sprained ankle in Wednesday night's game in Pittsburgh while going back into first base on a pickoff play and is day-to-day. Ethier, who celebrates his 28th birthday today, has a tremendous history at Sun Life Stadium, batting .349 with a .408 on-base percentage and .442 slugging percentage. ...Friday, Brad Ausmus surpassed Benito Santiago and tied former Dodger catcher Al Lopez for seventh place all-time on the games caught list in Major League history (1,918). This season, Ausmus will likely catch Jim Sundberg (1,927) and Tony Pena (1,950). Ausmus also tied Shawn Green for the all-time Jewish record for regular season games played (1,951), according to JewishMajorLeaguers.org., a not-for-profit organization that "documents American Jews in America's Game." ...Kemp's single in the ninth inning April 8 was his second hit of the game and the 500th hit of his career. ...Since moving to Los Angeles in 1958, only six Dodgers have finished a single shy of the cycle, including Ronnie Belliard yesterday, according to STATS, LLC. The others were Frank Howard (1961), Willie Crawford (1972), Steve Garvey (1976), Gary Sheffield (2000) and Marquis Grissom (2001). ...At a luncheon April 8, Fernando Valenzuela was honored as a "Treasure of Los Angeles" by the Central City Association. Valenzuela is the latest of several Dodgers to be honored by CCA, including his former manager, Tom Lasorda, and Dodger legend Don Newcombe, both of whom serve as Special Advisors to Frank McCourt, another past honoree of the CCA. Valenzuela joined James Worthy and other outstanding individuals and organizations of Los Angeles which were also being honored for exceptional contributions in the areas of arts and entertainment, healthcare, higher education, sports and urban revitalization. ...On April 9th in 1981, Valenzuela made his first Major League start, substituting for Jerry Reuss on Opening Day and shutting out the Astros, 2-0, to mark the start of Fernandomania around the baseball world. ...The Dodgers reached the two million mark in tickets sold yesterday, about 11 days ahead of last year's pace which resulted in a Major League-leading attendance mark of 3.7 million. Since the start of the modern era in baseball, the Dodgers of Brooklyn and Los Angeles, combined, have a cumulative attendance of more than 184 million, the highest total in the history of baseball or any other sport.

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