Kuroda Handles DBacks as Dodgers Sweep

Hiroki Kuroda bounced back from his worst outing of the season to strike out nine Diamondbacks in just over seven innings and the Dodgers won 6-3 to sweep the three-game series. Manny Ramirez's bases-loaded double in the seventh broke the game open and Andre Ethier added his 11th home run.

Kuroda, who was tagged for five runs by Colorado in his last start, retired nine straight Arizona batters after walking the leadoff man. He allowed a pair of singles and a two-run double in the fourth that tied the game, then allowed one more hit before a leadoff single in the eighth.

Along the way he ran up nine strikeouts, his highest total since fanning seven in his first start, and moved his record to 4-1 while dropping his ERA to 2.66. It was his second win in five decisions against Arizona.

For the first time in his three years with Los Angeles he is completely healthy and has apparently earned the title of ace of the staff.

After Andre Ethier put Los angeles on the board in the fourth inning with an opposite field home run, Matt Kemp singled in the tie-breaker in the fifth and Ramirez's booming three-run double in the seventh gave the Dodgers some breathing room.

A trip to Arizona was just what the struggling Dodgers needed after losing seven of 11 road games. The sweep moved them out of the division basement into third place and evened their record at 17-17, setting up the first meeting of the season with the division leading Padres in San Diego.

The elevator is moving in the opposite direction for Arizona and have lost five of six on the current homestand. The sweep gives them a 14-21 record and sole position of fifth place in the National League West. Their bullpen is in shambles and has allowed 26 runs in 11.2 innings over the last four games

Kemp was the only Dodger to collect more than one hit. He knocked in the tie-breaking run in the fifth. Ethier (2) and Ramirez (3) drove in the other runs.

Carroll, filling in admirably for Rafael Furcal who is rehabbing with Inland Empire, walked twice, scored twice and singled. He has more than filled the bill at shortstop. Over 29 games he has hit .280 with a .381 on-base percentage. Since Furcal strained his left hamstring on April 27, Carroll has hit .308 (16-for-52) with two doubles and five RBI in 15 games. The Dodgers have gone 9-6 in Carroll's 14 starts at shortstop.

After going 0-for-13 over his previous four games, James Loney went 7-for-14 (.500) in the series with a homer, two doubles and four RBI. The first baseman is hitting over .400 in 28 career games in Phoenix.

The memory of getting hit in the head with a line drive in Arizona nine months ago, was still fresh in Kuroda's mind. "I am a human being so I was a little bit nervous facing that first hitter," Kuroda said through an interpreter. "I can never forget that."

Kuroda sustained a concussion when he was drilled in the side of the head by Rusey Ryal's shot up the middle last August 15. "I think that's one of the reasons why I wasn't pitching very well to the first batter in the first inning. That came into my mind a little bit there. I had to regroup myself and started to cruise afterward."

After retiring nine straight after an opening walk, he received a pair of runs in the fourth when Matt Kemp singled and they trotted home when Ethier slashed his 11th home run into the left-field seats.

Kuroda stumbled in the fourth, allowing a pair of singles and a two-run double to the first four Arizona batters. Then he tightened the hatches and put four more strikeouts in the book before leaving with one out in the eighth.

By that time the Dodgers had added a run in the fifth when Jamey Carroll walked, stole second and scored on a bullet into left field by Kemp.

In the seventh, the Diamondbacks were faced with a dilemma.

Carroll had walked and was bunted to second by Kuroda. Russell Martin singled to extend his hitting streak to eight games and Kemp fanned.

Arizona manager A.J. Hinch did not want to face Ethier, the hottest hitter in the National League in that situation. So he walked him and had to pitch to Ramirez, who blasted a long shot to deep center, knocking in three runs.

"It's a tough call," said Hinch. "The way it turns out, it was obviously a bad call. Two of the hottest hitters in the league with all the money on the table. Unfortunately we'll never know how that plays out if we would have gone the other way."

Joe Torre said when he was manager of the Yankees he intentionally walked the bases loaded to bring up Ramirez. "He almost knocked the wall down in Fenway Park. It's not an easy spot for an opposing manager, knowing how hot Ethier is and knowing the reputation of Manny. We're really in a good spot in that situation."

Kuroda left after allowing his sixth hit and one out in the eighth. Ron Belisario faced one man and walked him, bringing in Hong-Chih Kuo, who hit a Diamondback to load the bases. A sacrifice fly drove in a run before Kuo retired the side.

Jonathan Broxton interspersed a single and a walk with three strikeouts to record his fourth save and close out the game.

Former Dodger Edwin Jackson fell to 1-5 on the season, losing his last four starts. The right-hander was a victim of poor run support in his last outing, striking out seven but losing 3-2 to Milwaukee.

Joe Torre, perhaps unintentionally, perhaps not, touched on the Dodgers primary sore spot this season. "Starting pitching adds stability and we play a lot differently when we get it," said manager Joe Torre. "We beat [Ubaldo] Jimenez Sunday and [Dan] Haren last night. That's good for our confidence and not easy to do."

Dodger Blue Notes --The Dodgers have won nine of their last 12 games dating back to April 30. They have now won four consecutive games for the first time this season. Going into the game, Dodger pitchers had posted a 2.00 ERA (6 R/27.0 IP) and limited opposing hitters to a .168 average (16-for-95) with 30 strikeouts in the last three games. ...The newest member of the rotation, John Ely, will celebrate his 24th birthday tomorrow. Ely has not walked a batter with 13 strikeouts in 12.2 innings and has posted a 2.13 ERA (3 ER/12.2 IP) in his last two starts. ...The Dodgers are 15-4 in Kuroda's last 19 games (18 starts), including a 6-1 mark in his six starts of the 2010 season. He has posted an 9-3 record with a 3.10 ERA in that 19-game period dating to July 12, 2009, his first and only career relief appearance. ...The Diamondbacks' starter RHP Edwin Jackson made his Major League debut at Arizona as a Dodger on his 20th birthday on Aug. 9, 2003, out-dueling Randy Johnson with 6.0 innings of one-run ball and picking up the win in the Dodgers' 4-1 win. ...Russell Martin has hit safely in his last eight games dating back to May 5, batting .3.36 (10-for-33) with two home runs and five RBI in that span. It ties his longest streak since an eight-game hitting streak from May 11-19, 2008. Martin ranks third on the club with four homers, a number he did not reach last year until Aug. 20, 2009. ...Shortstop Rafael Furcal was scheduled to play with Triple-A Albuquerque in Colorado Springs but weather concerns re-routed him to Single-A Inland Empire, where he played last night and in a day game. He posted identical stats in both games, playing six innings in the field and going 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout. ...The last time the Diamondbacks were swept on a six game homestand was July 15-25, 2004, when they lost 11 straight. (Dodgers Publicity)