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Dodgers Batter Pirates 9-3

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With the Dodger bats backing him up, Hiroki Kuroda gave the Dodgers one of his patented starts with no walkages for the Dodgers’ 9-3 win.

Dodgers’ hitters picked up where they left off continuing to abuse the Pirates’ pitching staff. Andre Ethier hit two home runs and drove in four runs, Blake DeWitt had his first four-hit game of his Major League career and Xavier Paul went 2-for-5 notching his first triple and his first multi-hit game.

“We are swinging the bats with a lot more confidence now,” manager Joe Torre said. “It’s a real quiet confidence.”

James Loney and DeWitt got things started in the second inning with RBI doubles for the quick 2-0 lead, and the Dodgers kept rolling after Paul tripled to lead off the third and Ethier driving him home with a single for the 3-1 advantage.

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Although the Pirates would get a run back in the fourth inning, Ethier’s home run with Paul on first made it a 5-1 game in the fifth. Kemp hit a double and came home on James Loney’s single for the 6-1 lead.

DeWitt drove two more runs home on a double off of reliever Brian Bass, and Ethier capped off the scoring with a solo homer in the eighth inning off of Joel Hanrahan.

“I felt good out there,” DeWitt said of his four-hit game. “I just tried to go and have good at-bats every time up and had a good result today.”

Ethier for the second time in his career has hit homers in three consecutive games and for the second time this season and tenth time in his career had a multi-homer game.

“He is tough to pitch to,” Torre said. “He’ll hurt you high. He’ll hurt you low. Right now he is sitting back and very relaxed.”

“I’m just feeling good,” Ethier said. “When times are tough, you realize how hard this game really is.”

Kuroda meanwhile was a strike machine going eight innings giving up only one run on five hits and a walk with three strikeouts. It didn’t matter that Pirates’ manager John Russell for the first time this season batted the pitcher ninth in the lineup instead of eighth.

“[Kuroda] showed us how to pitch with a lead,” Torre said. “He threw a lot of strikes. Eight innings was certainly more than you needed but it was good.”

“I feel very good right now,” Kuroda said through translator Kenji Nimura. “The two pitches that were pretty good today were the slider and the fastball.”

One note of concern was George Sherrill who came in to pitch the ninth inning and gave two runs back to the Pirates. After 23 pitches, Torre brought in Ronald Belisario to get the final out.

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“He’s been much better,” Torre noted about Sherrill. “He’s just not locating. I thought he was rushing himself a little bit today.”

And as the Dodgers push their errorless streak to five games, third baseman Ronnie Belliard punctuated it with an amazing catch halfway down the left field line on Bobby Crosby pop-up in the seventh inning with one out and Andy LaRoche on first. With LaRoche past second base, Belliard threw the ball to Loney at first to double up LaRoche and end the inning.

“I got lucky,” Belliard said about that play. “The ball caught me. I didn’t catch the ball. Loney made a great play at first.”

The Dodgers with 16 hits have now had 10 or more hits in 11 of their 25 games. This is the Dodgers’ first three-game winning streak and they remain five games back of division leading San Diego.

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