Kuroda took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before the Astros broke through for seven hits and six runs in the eighth inning and pulled out an 8-5 victory Sunday.
“You go from being no-hit to getting eight runs. That just shows what kind of guys we have in this locker room,” Houston manager Cecil Cooper said. “They keep playing hard and they don’t quit. It’s a tribute to them. We had some great at-bats.”
Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence had RBI singles against reliever Jonathan Broxton (1-1), and Brad Ausmus added a two-run single against the right-hander as the Astros won for the eighth time in nine games. Houston also completed its first three-game sweep at Dodger Stadium since September 25-27, 1992.
Michael Bourn capped the rally with a sacrifice fly, giving Houston a 7-3 lead. The Dodgers’ bullpen came in with a 2.72 ERA, second-best in the majors.
“It’s tough,” catcher Russell Martin said. “A guy goes six innings and doesn’t give up any hits, and you take him out after one hit and the bullpen gives it up for him. Everyone feels bad. You want to win every game you can when a guy throws his heart out like that.”
Kuroda allowed a run and just one hit over 6 2-3 innings, struck out five, walked three and hit a batter in his eighth big league start after 11 seasons with Hiroshima of the Japanese Pacific League.
The right-hander remained winless in his last seven starts since his Dodgers debut on April 4, when he allowed a run and three hits over seven innings in a 7-1 win at San Diego.
Kuroda was bidding to become the second Japanese-born pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the majors. Hideo Nomo had one for Los Angeles on Sept. 17, 1996, beating the Colorado Rockies 9-0 at Coors Field. No Dodger has thrown a no-hitter since, but Nomo had another one April 4, 2001, at Baltimore in his Boston Red Sox debut.
“It wasn’t that we were trying too hard. He was just making good pitches,” Lee said. “He kept the ball down, moved it around and really kept us off-balance. We were just trying to get good at-bats and find a way to get on base.”
The no-hit bid ended when Pence got a 2-1 slider he liked and slapped a clean single in the hole past third baseman Blake DeWitt with two outs in the seventh and the Dodgers leading 2-0 on James Loney’s two-run homer in the first.
Pence’s hit off Kuroda came with one of the pink bats teammate Miguel Tejada was using on Mother’s Day in acknowledgment of the fight against breast cancer.
“He had three quality pitches that he didn’t leave over the plate very often,” said Pence, who was 3-for-4 with two RBIs. “He was keeping it on the corners and getting us to swing at bad ones with his deception. I was just looking to get a pitch over the plate and try to get the barrel on it.”
“He was tired,” Torre said. “There was a lot of emotion. When you are pitching a close game with a no-hitter on top of it, it takes a lot more out of you. We finally got a pitcher who pitched as well as Kuroda did today and it didn’t stand up.”
Houston starter Shawn Chacon ended up with his eighth straight no-decision to start the season—tying a major league record. He gave up two runs and seven hits in six innings and struck out three.
“I’m sitting there in the eighth inning and I’m thinking I’m stuck on a pretty tough `L’ here,” Chacon said. “But there’s no quit in this team. Our offense is too good.”
The nine-year veteran, in his first season with the Astros, joined left-hander Dick Stigman of the 1965 Minnesota Twins as the only pitchers to have no-decisions in their first eight starts of a season.
“It’s pretty weird,” Chacon said. “Someone told me that I tied a major league record. I don’t know how excited I am about it, but I can’t do anything but keep trying to pitch well and keep our team in the game. If the relievers get all my wins, fine. They can take them. But I definitely want to get a win before I get a loss.”
The Dodgers have dropped four straight after winning 10 of 11.
Tejada was hit by a pitch for the second consecutive day, after getting plunked only once in 154 plate appearances over his previous 36 games this season. … The Dodgers next play Milwaukee, and will get a look at old pal Eric Gagne for the first time since he left the organization at the end of the 2006 season. Gagne set a major league record with 84 consecutive save conversions for them and won a Cy Young award in 2003. Gagne was demoted from his closer role Sunday after blowing five of his first 14 save opportunities.