Shutout is special for Dodgers’ Eric Stults
For Eric Stults, it was the perfect Mother’s Day gift -- and perhaps just what he needed to secure his place with the Dodgers.
Stults, a 29-year-old left-hander who rejoined the team’s pitching rotation when Hiroki Kuroda was injured last month, threw a four-hit shutout Saturday as the Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants, 8-0, at Dodger Stadium.
It was Stults’ second career shutout, the other coming last June 25 when the Indiana native beat the Chicago White Sox, 5-0, at Dodger Stadium.
His latest gem in front of 41,425 came only months after his mother, Kathy, died before spring training.
Stults -- who also drove in a run with a single -- said he wasn’t thinking about Mother’s Day during the game, but “now that it’s over I can think about it and be like, you know what, this is something special.
“Hopefully this will get us back on the winning track and I can go celebrate Mother’s Day [today] with my wife and give my dad a call and tell him I love him,” Stults said.
It was the first shutout by a Dodgers pitcher since July 30, when Chad Billingsley blanked the Giants, 4-0, at Chavez Ravine.
The Dodgers (22-10) also snapped a two-game losing streak and again widened their lead over the second-place Giants (15-14) to 5 1/2 games in the National League West.
Stults had plenty of support Saturday, with Juan Pierre and Juan Castro driving in three and two runs, respectively, and Matt Kemp making several running catches in center field.
“I think I owe Matt Kemp some dinner,” Stults said. “He ran down some balls today and made some great plays.”
Kemp later shrugged in the clubhouse, saying, “I’m just trying to save runs and keep the lead. That’s my job, to go out there and try to prevent as many base hits as I can, and I guess I came up doing pretty good today.”
Stults has spent the last few years bouncing between the majors and minors, and he started this season with the Dodgers’ triple-A team in Albuquerque.
Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti said he talked to Stults about seizing the opportunity to help the club, and recalled that Stults said, “I’m not planning on giving it up.”
“He can pitch here,” Colletti said.
Stults’ performance also gave the team’s bullpen the day off and provided a much-needed dose of stability for the Dodgers in a week when their star slugger, Manny Ramirez, was suspended for 50 games for using a banned substance.
Pierre, who took over in left field for Ramirez, helped stake Stults to an early five-run lead that the Dodgers built against Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez (1-3).
The Dodgers’ leadoff hitter doubled in the first inning, moved to third on Orlando Hudson’s single and scored when Andre Ethier hit into a double play.
The Dodgers scored three more in the second inning. With James Loney on second and Casey Blake on first, Castro -- playing shortstop for Rafael Furcal, who had a scheduled day off -- doubled to score Loney, and Pierre followed with a double to score Blake and Castro.
In the fifth inning, Hudson doubled to right-center field and scored on Kemp’s single.
And in the eighth, Castro hit another double that scored Russell Martin, Stults singled home Blake and Pierre’s single brought home Castro. The Dodgers end the three-game series with the Giants (15-14) today, then leave for a six-game trip starting Tuesday against the Philadelphia Phillies and then the Florida Marlins.
Times staff writer Dylan Hernandez contributed to this report.
VS. SAN FRANCISCO
Time: 1 p.m.
Where: Dodger Stadium.
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 790, 930.
Pitchers: Jeff Weaver vs. Tim Lincecum.
Update: The Dodgers close their three-game series with the Giants, with Weaver making his second start since being called up. Weaver won his first outing Tuesday in the Dodgers’ 3-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Lincecum, the 2008 National League Cy Young Award winner, got the win when the Giants beat the Dodgers, 9-4, on April 29 at AT&T; Park.
-- Jim Peltz