Our buddy Matt Snyder hit it square on the nose: Hiroki Kuroda's ability to win at home gave the Dodgers the clear advantage in Sunday night's Game 3. Turns out that he was more correct than he realized.
Not only did Kuroda pitch well with six innings of baseball enable the Dodgers to crawl back into the NLCS, his retaliation pitch which sailed over Shane Victorino's head and cleared the benches helped to not only bring the brushbacks to an end, but it won the everlasting respect of his teammates.
Of course, the five-run first inning also helped. But between Manny Ramirez having a Brett Myers pitch sail behind him in Game 2, and Russell Martin getting brushed back in the second inning on Sunday, the Dodgers needed somebody to stick up for his teammates and give the dugout a good feeling. Chad Billingsley didn't do it on Friday, so it was up to Kuroda to man up ... which he did. And no matter if you think he aimed at Victorino's head or over it (and whether he was right or wrong with his location), the pitch indeed had a purpose to help his hitters and help his team feel better about life. Mission accomplished.
What Game 3 means for the Dodgers is that not only do they not have to attempt what only three teams in professional sports have done, coming back from down 0-3 in a playoff series, but it means that the Dodgers have a renewed confidence, and a great chance to even this series on Monday with Derek Lowe going on three days rest against Joe Blanton and not Cole Hamels. After that is anyone's guess with Hamels going against Billingsley in Game 5, but I'm sure the Dodgers wouldn't mind worrying about that with a tied series.