Fukudome rescues Cubs late

Fukudome rescues Cubs late

LOS ANGELES -- Kosuke Fukudome spoiled Takashi Saito's bobblehead night.

Fukudome hit his first road home run and delivered a tiebreaking RBI single with one out in the ninth inning and Kerry Wood notched his 17th save on Thursday night to lift the Cubs to a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers for their 10th win in the last 11 games.

The Cubs improved their Major League-best record to 39-22, which includes a 4-0 mark against the Dodgers this season. They have a slight lead in the all-time series against L.A., 1,011-1,010.

"It was an exciting game," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "I've had all the fun I want for one evening."

Ryan Theriot doubled to lead off the ninth against Saito, and one out later, the Dodgers closer hit Aramis Ramirez with a pitch. Fukudome fell behind 0-2, swinging at the first two pitches, then took two balls, fouled two off and finally delivered a single to right.

Fukudome couldn't remember previous at-bats against Saito, but he had faced the Japanese closer before and has had success against him.

"Whenever I get a big hit and the team wins," Fukudome said, "it's a good feeling."

Jeff Kent hit two home runs for the Dodgers, including a game-tying blast with two outs in the eighth off Bob Howry (2-2). Wood pitched a nerve-wrecking ninth, striking out Matt Kemp with the bases loaded for the final out.

"[Wood] fell behind 2-0, and he came in with three pretty good fastballs and Kemp is a good fastball hitter," Piniella said. "Win or lose, it was a heck of a ballgame."

"Obviously, I'm trying to get ahead of him, and he helped me out swinging at ball three," Wood said. "At that point, I felt more comfortable trying to throw a fastball and getting ahead in the count. I just let the [last pitch] go.

"With the bases loaded and Kemp up, that was the game right there. It was going to be over one way or the other."

The Cubs have made these come-from-behind wins rather commonplace and have rallied in their last nine wins.

"They should feel confident," Piniella said of his players. "Sometimes you do it, and sometimes you don't. Let's hope we don't have to do it too often."

Cubs starter Ryan Dempster did not get a decision and remained winless on the road. He gave up three runs on five hits and two walks over 5 1/3 innings and was pulled after falling behind against three straight batters in the sixth, including Kent, who took advantage of the situation and hit his first homer to close the gap to 4-3.

"[Dempster] started to fall behind hitters in quick sequence," Piniella said. "We had to get him out of there."

"I'm kind of disappointed in myself because I was getting ahead of guys and being aggressive," Dempster said. "That sixth inning -- I don't know. I felt good, I felt strong, and I was just getting behind every guy. There's really no excuse for it. I was feeling good. My stuff was plenty good. That's a game where you have to be better than that. You have to keep moving along, keep throwing strikes."

Fukudome and Mark DeRosa, who have both scuffled on the road, each hit solo homers for the Cubs. Fukudome, who was hitting .207 away from Wrigley Field, belted his first home run on the road with one out in the second, lofting a 1-1 pitch from Chad Billingsley to right. Maybe he's getting used to the road grays?

"Perhaps it's because my family is in town," Fukudome said of his wife and young son, who joined him in San Diego. "I'll make sure they stay."

The Cubs loaded the bases with one out in the third, and tallied on Ramirez's groundout to go ahead, 2-0. DeRosa, batting .214 on the road, made it 3-0 with his seventh home run with one out in the fourth. Dempster followed him with a double and scored one out later on Theriot's single.

The Dodgers nearly hit for the cycle in the fifth. With one out, Blake DeWitt doubled, Chin-lung Hu tripled, and pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney singled, with runs scoring on Hu's and Sweeney's hits to make it 4-2. Center fielder Jim Edmonds helped stop the Dodgers with a snow-cone catch of Juan Pierre's ball. Kent completed the cycle one inning later with his home run off a 3-1 pitch from Dempster.

The only other problem the Cubs encountered was a communications snafu in the seventh when they couldn't get the phone to work in the dugout. That's nothing. Somehow, they'll figure out a way.

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