Giants 5, Dodgers 4

We got an explanation on the ball that Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier screwed up in the first inning. As I mentioned here earlier, it was extremely windy here tonight, and it was a loud, howling wind — loud enough that neither Kemp nor Ethier could hear the other calling for the ball. That was why neither of them backed off on the play.
“We couldn’t hear each other,” Kemp said. “I don’t even remember (exactly what happened). A lot was going on at that moment. It was a tough ball. (Second baseman Orlando Hudson) said we were both calling it and we didn’t hear each other. I don’t know what to really say about it. (It was) the wind. The elements out there were pretty crazy. But no excuses. That ball should have been caught by one of us.”
Kemp also made no excuses for the next ball, which he misjudged into a triple for Randy Winn.
“It just took off. It had a weird little spin on it, and it just got away from me. But the ball should have been caught.”
It led to a three-run inning for the Giants. If both plays had been made, Randy Wolf would have had a one-two-three inning.
What happened in the eighth inning, with Ronald Belisario on the mound, is laid out in detail in tomorrow’s paper, so no need to revisit it here. In case you were wondering, Joe Torre’s explanation for why he didn’t bring in a well-rested Hong-Chih Kuo, the Dodgers’ designated eighth-inning setup man, to set up in the eighth inning was all the right-handed hitters the Giants had coming up. I’m starting to wonder whether Kuo really IS the eighth-inning setup man for this team.
Anyway, Dodgers fall to 13-7 and 2 1/2 up on the Pods. Giants now just three back. Chad Billingsley against Jonathan Sanchez tomorrow night, 7:15. Billingsley is 4-0 in four starts, but more importantly in this case, he is 3-0 in three starts following Dodgers losses. He not only pitches like an ace, he pitches like a stopper, too.

Hiroki Kuroda receives cortisone shot in his left side, won’t throw until the weekend

Stan Conte said it’s just an effort to get over that final hurdle that is preventing him from coming back. Everyone has been pleased with Kuroda’s recent bullpen, but there is still that last bit of discomfort that he is feeling in his left oblique muscle, and the belief is that this will get rid of it. He’s still probably a couple of weeks from coming back, because he won’t throw until this weekend and he’ll still probably need a rehab start. … It is COLD here tonight, even colder, I think, than it was in Denver yesterday, and the wind is blown HARD. Judging by the flags, it’s going right to left.

The reason for Andre Ethier’s early-season success … and tonight’s lineup

Well, it’s not the WHOLE secret, but it’s at least a part of it. It has to do with how he is hitting against left-handed pitchers, which is supposed to be a weakness for LH hitters. Ethier entered this season hitting .305 for his career against RHPs, .281 against LHPs. Last year, the difference was stark: .326 vs. RHPs, .243 vs. LHPs. Well, so far this year, he is hitting slightly HIGHER against LHPs (.316) than against RHPs (.314). He also has hit three of his five HRs and has seven of his 20 RBI against LHPs, and to put those numbers in perspective, he has 19 ABs and 21 PAs against LHPs as opposed to 51 ABs and 66 PAs against righties. He also has a ridiculous .842 slugging percentage against lefties (second in the majors) as opposed to just .510 against righties. He does have a higher OBP (.455) against righties than lefties (.381).

Here is tonight’s lineup. Many of you have been clamoring to see Matt Kemp in the cleanup spot, and you are getting your wish tonight. But don’t get used to it. My guess is the only reason he is there is because James Loney is sitting. Loney is 1 for 20 lifetime, albeit with six walks and no strikeouts, against Barry Zito. Kemp is 14 for 27 (.519) against him, with seven walks and only three Ks.

Furcal 6
Hudson 4
Ramirez 7
Kemp 8
Ethier 9
Martin 2
Loretta 3
Blake 5
Wolf 1