08/03/08 2:07 AM ET
D-backs done in by new Dodgers
Arizona's lead in National League West trimmed to two games
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake each homered to lead the Dodgers past the D-backs, 4-2, in front of a sellout crowd at Dodger Stadium.
The loss snapped Arizona's four-game winning streak and cut its lead over the Dodgers in the National League West to two games. The teams close out the four-game series Sunday afternoon.
Ramirez, picked up from the Red Sox on Thursday, got the Dodgers on the board in the first with a two-run homer to left-center off Yusmeiro Petit. It was his first home run since the trade and earned him a curtain call from the crowd, which has cheered his every move the past two days.
Petit (1-2) tried to come in with a fastball, but instead the 86 mph offering ended up down the middle and soon thereafter out of the park.
"Tried to crowd him right away and missed his spot and he put a good swing on it," catcher Miguel Montero said. "That's why he's one of the best hitters."
A play prior to the Ramirez homer showed once again why baseball is a game of inches, or in this case less than an inch.
Juan Pierre led off the Dodgers first with a bunt down the third-base line. The ball rolled along the dirt, onto the chalk foul line and, in Montero's eyes, off the line and into foul territory. The only set of eyes that count, though, those of plate umpire Derryl Cousins, saw it differently and ruled it a fair ball.
"Pretty inconclusive," manager Bob Melvin said when asked if the ball was fair or foul. "I never looked at [a replay], but some people said it might have been sitting on the corner of the line."
One inning later, Blake, who was acquired from the Indians on July 26, hit a solo homer down the left-field line to push the Dodgers lead to 3-0.
"Blake's a gamer and he brings it offensively, defensively and it seems like gives you a tough at-bat as the game goes along," Melvin said. "Those are good acquisitions."
Despite the production of Ramirez and Blake on Saturday, Melvin didn't think they were the reason for the loss.
"We just didn't enough offensively," he said.
That was largely the result of Dodgers right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, who allowed just one run on four hits over 7 1/3 innings. It was quite a contrast from his last outing against the D-backs when he lasted just two innings and allowed six runs.
The night might not have gone so smoothly for Kuroda (6-8) if the D-backs had been able to cash in a scoring opportunity in the first when Stephen Drew led off the game with a single but was stranded at second.
"He just looked like after the first inning he got a little more comfortable, had a better split," Melvin said. "It looked like the velocity was a little bit better on his fastball and he pitched in a little bit more than we saw last time. The first inning, if we push across that first run maybe it might have been different. It seemed like after the first inning Kuroda got a lot better as the game went along."
Kuroda threw plenty of strikes as he did not walk a batter. The lone run the D-backs scored against him came when Montero led off the third inning with his first homer of the year.
"He had everything working," Drew said. "You've got to give him credit. He pitched a real good game. He got ahead in the count. It's tough when a guy like that is hitting his spots. It was his night."
Drew had a chance to spoil Kuroda's night in the eighth when he came up with one out and runners at first and second. Dodgers manager Joe Torre brought in southpaw Hong-Chih Kuo, who struck out Drew and got Orlando Hudson to ground out to end the threat.
"I just swung at two bad balls," Drew said. "Just trying to grind it out and get a pitch to hit and unfortunately didn't work out that way."
The D-backs made one last stand in the ninth when Conor Jackson led off with a walk, moved to second and scored two outs later when Alex Romero singled to left.
Torre once again went to his bullpen and this time, with closer Jonathan Broxton getting the night off, he summoned Chan Ho Park, and he got Chris Young to bounce out to end the game.
"We had our chances just didn't get the big hit when we needed it," Melvin said.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.