First Place!

Ho-hum, just another shutout – the third of June already – and the sixth one-run win in nine June games. That’s how you finally get back to first place in the NL West.

But it’s not just first place, is it? The win, coupled with San Diego’s loss to the Mets, gives the Dodgers the best record in the National League at 35-24, which is good for the third best in baseball behind Tampa Bay and the Yankees, who play in their own space league anyway.

Tonight’s heroes were many. Hiroki Kuroda rebounded from a string of subpar starts to go seven scoreless innings, walking just one while striking out six. Hong-Chih Kuo and Jonathan Broxton continued their utter domination, as Kuo hasn’t allowed an earned run since his first game of the season on April 22 and Broxton stared down the heart of the St. Louis lineup – Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, and Ryan Ludwick. Andre Ethier broke out of his post-DL slump to double twice among his three hits, and Manny Ramirez – despite somehow seeing just nine pitches in four at-bats – doubled in the only run the team would need in the 8th inning.

First place may not last long, since Adam Wainwright‘s no easy task tomorrow (though of course, neither is Clayton Kershaw). But it was only five weeks ago that the club was in last place – in the league, not just the division – and we were pondering just how bad it could get as the starting rotation disintegrated around us. So for tonight, all that matters is first place.

It’s a nice feeling.

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