Since pitching the Dodgers to their only victory in last year's playoffs, the animated right-hander had gone an embarrassing 13 starts without a win for Kansas City. But he pulled everything together Wednesday night and went eight solid innings to lead the Royals to a 3-1 victory over the team that had refused his request for a multiyear contract.
"It was sweet," said Lima (1-5), who had dyed his dark hair blond in an effort to change his luck.
Counting his last start for the Royals in 2003, his 15-start winless streak was tied for third-longest in club history.
"It feels good to get the first one. You know what -- if this was a test from the Man up there, I'm going to take it like a man. I've gone out there and taken my beating every time without making excuses," he said.
Lima had expected a multiyear contract offer after going 13-5 for the Dodgers, but declined a one-year deal and then was not offered arbitration. Feeling bitter toward the Dodgers, he wound up rejoining the Royals, the team that had rescued the apparently washed-up right-hander from the independent Newark Bears in 2003.
With terrific command of his fastball, breaking ball and changeup, he retired 10 straight Wednesday night before walking Antonio Perez with two outs in the eighth. Then, when he threw a called third strike pastJayson Werth to end the inning, he danced toward the dugout pounding his fist into his glove as the crowd roared.
Was he trying to make a point?
"Couldn't you tell?" he said with a grin.
He had six strikeouts and one walk in his longest outing of the season while outdueling Brad Penny (3-3).
Mike MacDougal pitched the ninth for his eighth save.
"Jose got himself going," Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. "By the third inning, I think he had himself locked in. We'd seen that from a year ago. He started making pitches and continued to make them all the way through the eighth inning. He just never allowed us to get anything going."
Matt Stairs and Brown hit consecutive RBI singles off Penny, breaking a 1-all tie in the fifth and sending the Royals to their 10th win in 14 games since Buddy Bell was named manager. Their fourth straight win tied their longest streak of the year.
Penny went seven innings and gave up three runs and eight hits. He had a season-high seven strikeouts.
"That's always nice to face your old team," Penny said, referring to Lima. "He pitched a great game. He was locating all his pitches."
Mike Sweeney, who left the game in the fourth with a sprained left wrist and elbow, doubled off in the first and made it 1-0 on Emil Brown's double.
The Dodgers tied it at 1 in the fourth after Werth, on the play Sweeney was injured, reached on an infield single and went to second on third baseman Mark Teahen's throwing error.
With one out, Jeff Kent singled to score Werth.
Sweeney, the Royals' only bona fide All-Star candidate, will undergo further tests on Thursday.
"I don't know much except it doesn't look good in terms of being here ready to play tomorrow," Bell said. "It's probably going to be a few days. Hopefully, it's not as serious as it looked. He's got an elbow problem and a wrist problem."
Bell said he doubted Lima felt any extra energy because he was facing the Dodgers.
"He always acts like that," he said. "I think sometimes he just kind of searches for things that give him a little extra edge, a little sense of urgency, maybe."
- Dodgers closer Eric Gagne was placed on the 15-day DL Wednesday with a sprained ligament in the right elbow, the same area that sidelined him the first 35 games this season. He will undergo further tests next week.
- From May 11-June 14, the Royals hit .289, the fourth-best average in the majors. The team average went from .232 to .260.
- Dodgers third base coach Glenn Hoffman was taken to a hospital for tests when he was struck in the head by a ball during batting practice. He was back in the dugout before the end of the game.
- The Royals are in a stretch of 12 straight games against NL opponents.