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Hiroki Kuroda Nearly Spectacular Against Phillies

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It wasn’t quite a spectacular night, but it was good enough as Dodger starter Hiroki Kuroda one-hit the Philadelphia Phillies through 7 2/3 innings for the Dodger 3-0 victory.

“I thought he was going to get it,” manager Joe Torre said. “His stuff was electric tonight. He had great location, he mixed it up, he overpowered some people, finessed some people. Great game for him.”

Kuroda (W, 10-11) had a no-hitter going into the eighth inning. A walk to Jayson Werth and a force out grounder by Raul Ibanez set the stage for the most beloved Phillie amongst Dodger fans to do his thing: a single lined to right field by Shane Victorino to break up Kuroda’s night.

“In the fifth inning I became conscious of the chance of the no-hitter,” Kuroda said through translator Kenji Nimura. “I knew the fans wanted it. I knew my teammates wanted it. I felt that I betrayed a lot of my fans and my teammates.”

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“We left one pitch a little too much of the plate and a little too high,” catcher Rod Barajas said. “Victorino is a good hitter, and he did what nobody in the city wanted him to do.”

After a strikeout to Carlos Ruiz, Torre took Kuroda out for Hong-Chih Kuo when Domonic Brown was announced as a pinch hitter for Phillies’ starter Roy Halladay.

“I had to do what I did,” Torre said. “I certainly wanted to make sure for Kuroda that we strategically did the thing that probably made the most sense.”

Charlie Manuel replaced Brown with Mike Sweeney, but it was all for naught: Kuo got Sweeney to ground into a force play to end the inning after one pitch.

Even with the no-hit bid gone, catcher Barajas had a lot to smile about. A Dodger fan as a kid who came to the Stadium four or five times per season, Barajas in his home debut as a Dodger knocked a homer in the fifth inning that bounced off the top of the left field wall and into the pavilion seats.

“This was a big night for me,” Barajas said. “Being a Dodger fan growing up in LA, this really was a big deal for me.

“I had the nerves just walking out there for my first at-bat. My hands were shaking. My knees were shaking. This was a childhood dream to put this uniform on and play on that field as a home team. For us to play the way we did tonight just capped everything off.”

Still grinning ear-to-ear Barajas admitted to being intimidated behind the plate on a potential no-hitter.

“It was exciting and at the same time scary. You don’t want to be the guy who makes the mistake or calls the wrong pitch and have the no-hitter broken up.”

Not to go unmentioned, but the Dodgers accomplished all of this against the Roy Halladay (L, 16-10) getting to him early.

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James Loney hit a single that scored Ryan Theriot in the first inning. However a good throw by right fielder Jayson Werth caught Andre Ethier trying to reach third base ending any ensuing threat by the Dodgers.

“[Ethier] probably shouldn’t have gone because it didn’t look like Theriot was going to get thrown out,” Torre admitted. “In his estimation if he thinks the play was going to be at home, then he did the right thing. I didn’t think that was a particularly bad play.”

The Dodgers added another run in the second inning on Barajas’ shaky-kneed double play.

Last Dodger no-hitter: September 17, 1996, Hideo Nomo at Colorado Rockies 9-0 with Mike Piazza catching.

Last no-hitter at Dodger Stadium: July 14, 1995, Ramon Martinez against Florida Marlins 7-0 with Mike Piazza catching. The Angels combined no-hitter for eight innings in 2008 does not count since by definition a no-hitter must be nine innings.