CHICAGO -- Suddenly, after a three-year wait, Eric Milton is starting to rack up the wins again.
The veteran left-hander pitched into the sixth inning for his second successive victory, and the Los Angeles Dodgers backed him with a five-run first while beating the Chicago Cubs 8-2 on Sunday night to salvage a four-game split.
Matt Kemp hit his sixth home run and finished with two hits. Rafael Furcal, Russell Martin, Mark Loretta and James Loney added two apiece as the Dodgers banged out 12 in all, and Los Angeles finished a 5-2 trip with an easy victory after getting pounded 7-0 and shut out for the first time the previous day.
Milton (2-0) took a shutout into the sixth and left with one out after the Cubs scored twice. He allowed six hits while earning back-to-back victories after going nearly three years without one due to an elbow injury.
"It's all about command," manager Joe Torre said. "He's putting the ball where he wants to."
The Dodgers are doing exactly what they want, even though Manny Ramirez is serving a 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy.
Los Angeles went 20-9 in May, posting its highest victory total for the month since going 21-7 in 1962, and this one got out of hand early.
The team with the best record in baseball, the Dodgers took control in the first, sending nine batters to the plate against Sean Marshall (3-4) after managing three runs in the first three games of the series. The first five singled, with Orlando Hudson and Loney delivering run-scoring hits, and Mark Loretta added a two-run double before Jamie Hoffman capped the rally with a sacrifice fly.
Kemp added a solo shot in the third, making it 6-0, and that was more than enough for Milton. A former All-Star who missed a year-and-a-half while recovering from Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, he appears to be coming around and will remain in the rotation after Los Angeles placed left-hander Eric Stults on the 15-day disabled list because of a sprained thumb on his pitching hand. That cleared a spot for opening day starter Hiroki Kuroda, who is expected to pitch Monday against Arizona after missing nearly two months with a strained left oblique.
On Sunday, Milton was ahead by five before he took the mound. Then, he constantly found himself ahead in the count, thanks to a curve that set up his fastball and kept the Cubs off balance.
"I felt good in Colorado and felt even better tonight," he said.
Chicago's Reed Johnson was impressed.
"He's definitely still got some velocity in his arm," said Johnson, who had three hits, including a two-run double.
The Cubs had won four of five after dropping eight in a row, but the Dodgers pounded Marshall for eight hits and eight runs (seven earned) in 4 1/3 innings. After lasting at least five innings in his first seven starts, the 26-year-old left-hander barely made it out of the first, and will likely head to the bullpen once Rich Harden returns from the disabled list with a back strain.
"I wish I could have gone out and had a good day today, but I had a little bit of trouble getting going," Marshall said.
Former Cub Juan Pierre, Furcal, Hudson, Martin and Loney started the game with singles and each of them scored, giving the Dodgers a commanding lead. Milton took over from there, and the Dodgers made some nice plays behind him.
Loretta jumped to snag Derrek Lee's liner to third in the first, and Hoffman saved a run in the second when he dove to catch Bobby Scales' fly to right and fired a one-hopper to throw out Johnson at the plate, ending the inning.
"That play on the potential sacrifice fly was amazing, from the kid catching it diving to getting up and throwing it to Russell making a very tough scoop and tag," Torre said.
- The Dodgers called up RHP Travis Schlichting from Double-A Chattanooga.
- Cubs manager Lou Piniella said Dempster won't miss a turn in the rotation despite a blister on his right middle finger, although the right-hander will get some extra time between starts. He is scheduled to pitch Saturday at Cincinnati.
- Harden is scheduled to throw off the mound on Tuesday.