Stults tosses shutout vs. Giants

Stults tosses shutout vs. Giants

LOS ANGELES -- After retiring the last batter in the top of the eighth inning on his 107th pitch Saturday, Eric Stults was done.

Dodgers manager Joe Torre and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt shook Stults' hand and commended him for throwing eight shutout innings.

But then, as Stults put it, he "begged" to stay out there for the ninth inning so he could go for the shutout, and Honeycutt relented on a one-batter-at-a-time approach.

The move paid off as Stults remained in the game to add an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth and got through the ninth inning to complete his second career shutout in the Dodgers' 8-0 win over the Giants at Dodger Stadium.

"Obviously, shutouts are special," said Stults, who also threw a four-hit shutout against the White Sox on June 25, 2008. "To me it's like a no-hitter. It feels great."

A no-hitter is exactly what Stults had through the first 4 1/3 innings as Stults retired the first 13 Giants batters he faced. But Aaron Rowand came through with a double to left field in the fifth inning to break up Stults' bid for perfection.

It still didn't dent Stults' performance as he got out of the inning unscathed, and he allowed just four hits without a walk the entire game while throwing 123 pitches.

"Today it just looked like he didn't try to overthrow the ball," Torre said. "I was just very impressed with the number of strikes he threw and the quality of strikes he threw."

It was a special outing for Stults because it came the day before Mother's Day, which has a new significance for Stults because his mother passed away during Spring Training this year.

Stults said he thought of his mother before his start, and now after pitching perhaps the best game of his career, he can enjoy Mother's Day with his family.

"It's something where hopefully I can celebrate with my wife and kids and give my dad a call and tell him I love him," Stults said. "I'm going to miss her but I'm glad she's watching down over me."

Stults couldn't have thrown the shutout without the help of center fielder Matt Kemp, who made three spectacular running catches, including one in the ninth that robbed Bengie Molina of a run-scoring extra-base hit after Edgar Renteria led off the inning with a double.

"I think I owe Matt Kemp some dinner," said Stults.

Kemp, however, was humble about the plays he made in center field.

"I just was doing my job," Kemp said with a smile. "It's my job to track down fly balls. I worked hard during Spring Training and it's worked out so far."

The Dodgers also got some unexpected help offensively as Juan Pierre and Juan Castro combined for six hits, five RBIs and five runs scored.

"Pierre I'm certainly tickled for," Torre said. "He works so hard, so it's nice to see him get those kinds of results. And Castro is again making himself necessary."

The Dodgers offense was at it early against Giants left-handed starter Jonathan Sanchez. Pierre led off the first with a double off Sanchez's glove that caromed into left field and scored on a double-play groundout by Andre Ethier. The Dodgers then added three runs in the second on a run-scoring double by Castro and a two-run double by Pierre. Castro cracked another RBI double in the eighth inning, and Stults contributed his run-scoring single ahead of Pierre's RBI single.

It marked Stults' second RBI of the season and was the cherry on top of his superb pitching performance.

"I enjoy hitting," said Stults, who is a career .238 hitter. "But it obviously doesn't always go the way I want it to."

The Dodgers scored a run in the fifth on an RBI single by Kemp after Orlando Hudson doubled earlier in the inning. Kemp also made a nice running catch in center field in the sixth inning that saved two runs when he caught a deep fly hit by Randy Winn to the warning track with runners on second and third.

"He's a highlight film," Torre said of Kemp. "He's improved an enormous amount. He knows he can do things now."

The 8-0 win marked the Dodgers' first victory without Manny Ramirez, who was suspended for 50 games Thursday for the use of performance-enhancing drugs. The win snapped a two-game losing streak and, according to Stults, was good for the team's confidence to prove that the club can win without Ramirez.

"I think it's big for this team," Stults said. "We have a lot of great players and I think we can still do something special without Manny. So it was just good to get back on a winning track."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.