Rafael Furcal returned from an ankle injury in mid-April, only to suffer a month-long slump. Now, he’s making up for lost time.
The shortstop was batting just .218 on Friday, but has boosted his average to .297 with 14 hits in his last four games. On Tuesday, he became the first Dodger to record four hits in three straight games, going 4-for-5 with two runs and three RBIs to lead Los Angeles (24-16) to a 9-7 win.
“I say, ‘Thank God,’ because it’s unbelievable,” Furcal said.
The last major-leaguer to have four hits in three consecutive games was Marcus Giles in 2003, when he and Furcal both played for Atlanta. Brett Butler, Mike Benjamin and Tim Salmon are the only other players to have accomplished the feat in the last 55 years, and only one player has had four hits in four straight games—Brooklyn’s Milt Stock in 1925.
“I can’t do that on Play Station. He’s doing it in real life,” teammate Luis Gonzalez said. “Guys in the dugout are shaking their heads. If he gets two hits tomorrow night, we’re all going to be disappointed.”
Furcal’s performance on Tuesday helped the Dodgers snap a 10-game losing streak to the Cardinals (16-21). As a team, Los Angeles is batting .339 and averaging 6.4 runs in winning four of its last five games.
Los Angeles hasn’t won back-to-back games against St. Louis since Sept. 10-11, 2004.
Though St. Louis ranks 29th in the majors with just 125 runs scored, the team’s offense appears to be coming around. The Cardinals have totaled 15 runs and 25 hits in splitting two games against the Dodgers. They had managed only five runs and 13 hits in their previous three games.
Shortstop David Eckstein, who started the season batting leadoff, hit in the eighth spot again on Tuesday. He is 5-for-7 while batting eighth in this series.
“Every time David comes up in the eighth spot, I get excited,” manager Tony La Russa told the Cardinals’ official Web site. “There is a lot of value to having a second leadoff (type of hitter) right in front of the pitcher. It creates a lot.”
Kip Wells (1-7, 6.51 ERA) will start for St. Louis in hopes of snapping a six-game losing streak, the longest of his career. Wells was 1-1 with a 1.38 ERA through two starts, but has posted an 8.47 ERA during his skid.
Wells gave up four runs in six innings Friday in a 7-0 defeat to the Padres on Friday, and is 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in three career starts against the Dodgers.
The Dodgers will send Randy Wolf (4-3, 3.94) to the mound, hoping for a repeat performance of his last start. The left-hander held Cincinnati to four hits in seven innings of a 2-0 victory on Friday, Wolf’s first win in his last four outings.
Wolf hasn’t pitched against St. Louis since 2004, and is 2-3 with a 3.67 ERA in six career starts against the Cardinals.