LOS ANGELES -- Eric Stults almost didn't get a chance to go the distance against the Chicago White Sox after throwing 100 pitches through eight innings. Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin lobbied manager Joe Torre to let the left-hander give it a shot, and he rewarded their faith in him.
Stults needed 16 more pitches to polish off the AL Central leaders for a 5-0 victory Wednesday night. The 28-year-old earned his first complete game in nine major league starts and capped a three-run fourth inning with a sacrifice fly.
"When I was walking into the dugout after the eighth, I looked at the scoreboard and the pitch count," Stults said. "Joe shook my hand and said, 'Good job,' and I went and sat down. And Russell was like, 'You want to keep going?' I said yeah. So he went up to Joe, asked him if I could keep going. Joe looked at me and I was nodding my head yeah, so he said, `We'll take it one hitter at a time."'
"I was getting tired," Stults admitted. "I mean, the adrenaline's still going, but I did feel like I started losing command of my pitches. So you could tell that fatigue was starting to set in. When you're in that situation, you try to do everything you can to get outs. So I went at them with fastballs and I was fortunate to get three fly ball outs."
Stults (2-0) scattered four hits, struck out three and walked one. He was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas on June 17 when Brad Penny went on the disabled list with a sore shoulder, then beat Cincinnati 7-4 last Thursday in his season debut after taking a shutout into the seventh.
"It's very unfortunate that injuries are what caused this to happen, but I'm just trying to take advantage of whatever number of starts I get up here," Stults said. "I had a great year in Triple-A this year and I just wanted to carry that momentum over. That's just been my goal, to show them that I can pitch here."
The Dodgers selected Stults in the 15th round of the 2002 draft. He was up briefly with them the previous two seasons, going 2-4 with a 5.75 ERA in five starts and seven relief appearances.
"The newness has kind of worn off, as far as the nerves and stuff like that," Stults said. "I feel like I'm more relaxed out there, and the goal is to just go after guys. Last year I was just trying to miss bats and not staying aggressive. This year, it's trying to get ahead and get contact early in the count."
The Dodgers' only other complete game this season was on June 6, when Hiroki Kuroda beat the Chicago Cubs 3-0 with a four-hitter. Kuroda has been sidelined since June 13 because of tendinitis in his shoulder.
"You don't see too many shutouts in baseball anymore because you've got guys in the bullpen whose jobs are to throw that eighth and ninth inning. So anytime you can throw a shutout, it's something special," Stults said.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen blamed his team's hitting woes on their unfamiliarity with Stults. No one on the roster had ever faced him before.
"Whenever we face someone we don't know, we have trouble," Guillen said.
A.J. Pierzynski gave the Dodgers' pitcher a little more credit than that after going 1-for-4.
"That guy pitched pretty good," said Pierzynski, who singled in the first inning and was stranded at third when Stults retired Swisher on a fly ball. "He used all his pitches and kept the ball down. We really only had one chance, and that was in the first inning. Other than that, he really didn't make too many mistakes."
Gavin Floyd (8-4) gave up five runs -- four earned -- and six hits over 5 1/3 innings after going 4-0 in his previous five starts. The right-hander is 0-3 with a 10.50 ERA in three career starts against the Dodgers, including two with Philadelphia in 2006.
Floyd, who gave up six unearned runs in the second inning of last Thursday's 13-8 loss against Pittsburgh after a throwing error by third baseman Pablo Ozuna, allowed another unearned run during the Dodgers' two-run first.
Juan Pierre singled, stole second and continued to third on Pierzynski's throwing error before Andre Ethier drove him in with a single. Jeff Kent reached on a two-base error by Dye, who missed Kent's fly ball at the edge of the right-field warning track as Ethier went to third. Martin singled home the second run.
"Gavin was kind of all over the place," Pierzynski said. "It obviously wasn't his best outing, but he tried to battle through it. He did a good job of controlling the damage in that inning and gave us a chance to get back in the game, but we never did."
- Dodger Stadium will host the sixth annual Aflac All-American High School baseball game on Aug. 9. This will be the first time the game will he held in a major league ballpark.