Sun, Sep 10, 2006 - Page 24 News List

Kuo stifles Mets in debut start

DREAM START Only the third Taiwanese pitcher to start a major league game, Kuo Hong-chih hurled six strong innings to help the Dodgers shut out New York

By Paul Huang  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER AND AP , MIAMI AND ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA

Kuo Hong-chih's (郭泓志) starting debut for the Los Angeles Dodgers was a big hit on Friday night, as the Taiwan-born left-hander pitched six shutout innings of three-hit ball with seven strikeouts en route to a 5-0 win over the New York Mets in New York for his first career victory.

The 25-year-old native of Tainan, who was given the nod to make his first career start in place of an injured Chad Billingsley by manager Grady Little after 23 relief appearances earlier this season, made the most of his chance to shine in the Big Apple by no-hitting the NL-leading Mets through the first four innings, before surrendering a leadoff single to David Wright in the bottom of the fifth.

The Dodgers defense also came alive for Kuo, turning two double plays (three on the night) and gunning down a runner at third on an attempted steal to end several scoring threats by the Mets, giving maximum support for the hard-throwing fireballer.

The outstanding effort by the southpaw who had gone through three elbow surgeries over the past four seasons not only gave his team an impressive win in the midst of a ten-game road trip, but also earned him another chance to start in next Thursday's contest against the Chicago Cubs.

"We are proud for him [Kuo]," an extremely pleased Little said after the game regarding Kuo's magnificent outing while naming Kuo as his starter in the game against the Cubs next week.

Kuo was spotted a two-run lead in the top of the first when a throwing error by Mets shortstop Wright on a routine grounder with the bases loaded scored a pair of unearned runs to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.

His fellow hitters would double that lead in the fifth for Kuo with solo homers by Rafael Furcal and Nomar Garciaparra off New York starter John Maine before plating their fifth run of the game in the sixth, courtesy of a standup double by veteran outfielder Kenny Lofton.

Relievers Brett Tomko and Jonathan Broxton threw a scoreless inning each in the seventh and eighth before closer Takashi Saito of Japan retired the side in order in a perfect ninth to seal the shutout win for Kuo.

The Dodgers win, coupled with a San Diego Padres loss to the San Francisco Giants pushed on the same night, upped the Dodgers' NL-West lead over the Padres to 1-1/2 games in a tight race for a postseason berth.

Phillies 3, marlins 2

Ryan Howard hit his 55th and 56th home runs, and Jamie Moyer pitched eight solid innings to help the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Florida Marlins 3-2 on Friday.

Howard hit a two-run drive in the sixth and a solo shot in the eighth for his seventh multihomer game this season.

Moyer (2-1), making his 514th start and his first against Florida, allowed five hits and one run and threw only 90 pitches. He has made four starts for the Phillies since they acquired him Aug. 19 from Seattle.

The Phillies have won the first two games in the four-game series between National League wild-card contenders.

Reds 9, Pirates 1

At Cincinnati, Adam Dunn hit his 40th homer and Javier Valentin connected in consecutive at-bats for Cincinnati's win over Pittsburgh.

Kyle Lohse pitched seven strong innings and Ryan Freel hit a leadoff homer for the Reds, who had lost four of five.

Dunn became the second player in Reds history to hit at least 40 home runs in three consecutive seasons. Ted Kluszewski (1953-1955) was the first.

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