GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - For perhaps the first time since the devastating earthquake and tsunami struck his homeland, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda was able to put what's happening in Japan out of his mind.
Kuroda gave up three runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings of the Los Angeles Dodgers' 6-6 tie in 10 innings against the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday.
After his outing, he went right back to thinking about home, signing autographs in exchange for donations to help in the relief effort.
``I do whatever I can do to help,' Kuroda said. ``I'm a professional player, so when I get on the mound I try to forget everything else that's going on elsewhere. But I am really grateful to my teammates and the organization for supporting me and supporting my country.'
Kuroda announced earlier in the week that he was donating $50,000 to the relief efforts in Japan, and he said numerous teammates had approached him about how they could help. Several spent an hour before Saturday's game signing autographs for fans in exchange for a donation to the relief efforts.
Saturday was his first appearance since the quake struck in Japan and he appeared sharp and focused. The hardest hit ball against him was the leadoff single by Rickie Weeks on Kuroda's first pitch.
After that, the Brewers strung together some well placed ground balls or fly balls that fell in front of the outfielders.
``He was kind of a little bit cursed,' Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. ``Some of the hits he gave up were kind of bad luck.
``But he was solid, he's always solid.'
Kuroda avoided the loss when the Dodgers rallied for for runs in the final two innings.
``Although I gave up a lot of hits, I felt I was pitching pretty well,' Kuroda said. ``The last half of the game, I was able to locate all of my pitches and I was able to jam the hitters.'
Milwaukee's starter, Randy Wolf enjoyed his best outing of the spring, going 5 2-3 innings, and giving up just five hits and two runs. He came into the game with a 16.71 ERA.
Weeks and Jeremy Reed each had two hits for the Brewers.
In Milwaukee's three-run sixth inning, Wil Nieves greeted Dodgers reliever Ramon Troncoso with an RBI single. After Wolf walked, Edwin Maysonet lined a two-run single.
Gabe Kapler and Hector Gimenez each hit RBI doubles and Jay Gibbons added an RBI grounder in the eighth to pull the Dodgers to 6-5. In the ninth, Aaron Miles, who had two hits and an RBI, doubled and scored on a single by Juan Castro. Two batters later, Eugenio Velez hit a single to center, but Castro was thrown out at the plate by center fielder Chris Dickerson.
Dickerson, who had three hits and two RBIs, made another outstanding play in the bottom of the 10th, robbing Gibbons of an extra-base hit with a leaping play at the wall in left-center.
NOTES: Dodgers stars Chad Billingsley, Andre Either, Rafael Furcal, Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, James Loney all took their turns signing for the fans before the game, as did former Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda. ... Dioner Navarro and Jamey Carroll each went 1-for-4 in a minor league game on Saturday. ... With his 2-for-3 day, Weeks raised his spring training average to .457.
The Associated Press News Service
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