The Dodgers are on the verge of the unthinkable.
They might sweep someone.
They might win four consecutive games.
The Dodgers moved to within a victory of the two modest but unprecedented milestones Tuesday night, as they beat the Detroit Tigers, 6-1, at Dodger Stadium behind a two-run home run by Andre Ethier and a perfect eighth inning by Hong-Chih Kuo.
“I’m excited about winning three in a row,” Manager Don Mattingly said. “I’m excited about the chance of getting there.”
Kuo hadn’t pitched in the majors since he landed on the disabled list May 10 because of an anxiety disorder.
The left-hander’s first pitch, to Brennan Boesch, was a strike.
“That settled me down,” catcher A.J. Ellis said.
Boesch struck out three pitches later.
Victor Martinez and Andy Dirks flied out.
“He comes in a tough part of the order and gets three out,” Mattingly said. “Made it uneventful for us.”
Kuo, who last season became the first Taiwan-born player to be selected an All-Star, threw only nine pitches, seven for strikes.
“Kuo is awesome,” Ellis said. “I’m so happy for him. The guy is so resilient.”
Kuo was the most inspiring figure on a team that played inspired baseball.
Tigers starter Max Scherzer went into the game with a 9-2 record, but the Dodgers battered him for six runs and nine hits in six innings.
The runs came from everywhere.
The recently promoted Ellis, who has spent most of the season with triple-A Albuquerque, put the Dodgers ahead, 1-0, with a second-inning single that drove in James Loney.
Light-hitting defensive specialist Tony Gwynn Jr. beat out a two-out infield hit in the fourth inning to get Aaron Miles home and put the Dodgers ahead, 2-1.
An inning later, Ethier sent a 3-and-0 fastball halfway up the right-field pavilion to increase the margin to 4-1.
The home run was only Ethier’s seventh of the season but second in the last five games.
Chad Billingsley battled command problems to hold the Tigers to a run and six hits over 51/3 innings.
Billingsley began the game on his worst stretch this season. He was charged with 17 runs in 132/3 innings over his last three starts. Mattingly made it a point to speak to him about making adjustments.
Billingsley nearly unraveled in the sixth inning, when he walked Alex Avila to load the bases with one out.
Billingsley was pulled at that point, much to his dismay. Upon returning to the dugout, Billingsley threw his glove against the bench.
Mattingly sent Mike MacDougal into the game, a move Manager Jim Leyland countered by inserting Miguel Cabrera as a pinch-hitter. Cabrera was 0 for 12 all-time against Billingsley.
MacDougal retired Cabrera on an inning-ending double play.
The Dodgers blew open the game in the bottom half of the inning.
Trent Oeltjen doubled to right-center field to drive in Miles from first base and scored on a single to left by Dee Gordon.