Dodgers can't overcome Kuroda's tough start
Gibson bests former team in managerial debut with D-backs
PHOENIX -- Kirk Gibson took charge of the Dodgers early in the spring of 1988 and we all know what happened, so his managerial debut Friday night can't be minimized.
Playing an inspired brand of baseball in the image of their debuting skipper, the last-place D-backs whipped the Dodgers, 12-5, chasing Hiroki Kuroda in the second inning and finishing with the most runs an opponent has scored against the Dodgers this season.
"This was kind of euphoric," Gibson said. "It felt like my first Major League at-bat again. I don't know if people are used to that kind of feeling, but it's something special to me."
Losing manager Joe Torre wasn't about to pin the outcome on his new counterpart.
"Unless you pitch, you can't expect to win," said Torre. "We got 12 hits and had the opportunity to score more, we just couldn't keep them from scoring."
Kuroda had command of no pitch other than his fastball. He allowed three runs in a 42-pitch first inning when he walked two, and surrendered three more runs in the second. Jeff Weaver came in before the inning was over, and Kuroda was charged with six runs on eight hits in 1 2/3 innings.
"I didn't have my split today and my slider was moving too fast," Kuroda said. "I did what I could do, but it wasn't really my day. I have to leave this behind."
Kuroda said he didn't have the "right feel" for his mechanics or delivery, but said returning to the site where he was drilled on the head by a Rusty Ryal line drive last August wasn't "in my mind at all." Earlier this year, Kuroda pitched at Chase Field and allowed two earned runs in seven innings, taking a no-decision.
Kuroda said he was fine physically, and Torre said he was not concerned.
"Just turn the page," the skipper said. "He warmed up all right. His breaking ball looked like it was slipping out of his hand. He pitched seven innings-plus here last time in this park. You try to find a common denominator, but he didn't do it."
Another former Dodgers pitcher, Edwin Jackson, was only slightly better than Kuroda while coming off his 149-pitch no-hitter, and was charged with four runs in five innings to get the win. The Dodgers trailed, 3-2, after the top of the second inning -- but they were down, 9-3, just a frame and a half later. "It's always easier to throw in a game when you have a big lead like that," said Jackson. "You are able to make more mistakes; they're not going to be as costly."
Despite playing again without Manny Ramirez (who appears headed to the disabled list with an injured right hamstring), the Dodgers offense got three RBIs from Blake DeWitt and two RBIs from James Loney -- who had three hits, as did Andre Ethier.
"We came back to 3-2, but unfortunately it's always the next inning that you've got to stop them," Torre said. "It's like football -- you score a touchdown, you've got to get the ball back. Three runs an inning the first three innings are hard to overcome."
But Los Angeles' middle relievers couldn't keep the game close. Jeff Weaver, after finishing off the second inning for Kuroda, gave up three more runs in the third -- two on a double by Chris Young, who later belted a three-run homer off Justin Miller and finished with five RBIs. Ramon Troncoso pitched two perfect innings of relief.
"I didn't do a good job putting down their offense," Weaver said. "I got two strikes a couple times, but they did a good job putting the ball in play. You see that happen when a team scores early like that, they gain a lot of confidence and start feeling good about themselves."
Arizona came into the game ninth in the National League in stolen bases, but swiped three in the first three innings of Gibson's first game after replacing A.J. Hinch.
"You see that a lot," said DeWitt. "A change like that can fire guys up, and they definitely looked like it tonight."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.