LOS ANGELES -- Bothered by a stiff neck in his last few starts, Hiroki Kuroda could have skipped his turn in the rotation and rested. Instead, he went ahead, somewhat reassured by results of an MRI that showed no new damage.
Kuroda set a career high with his 12th victory, helped by pinch-hitter James Loney's three-run homer and Matt Kemp's 111th RBI in the Los Angeles Dodgers' 7-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.
"It was a little peace of mind, but I still think it bothered me," Kuroda said through a translator. "Little things bother me. I didn't change any of my mechanics."
He said he plans to make his next scheduled start.
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Kuroda (12-16) allowed two runs and five hits in six innings. The right-hander struck out seven and walked two to win for the first time in three starts this month. He is now 5-1 against the Pirates in his career.
"[Rod] Barajas called a great game," Kuroda said. "He knew all the batters. He wanted me to pitch inside and every time I was doubting pitches he called the right ones."
Loney's first career pinch-hit homer off Chris Resop hit the top of the right-field wall, capping a four-run sixth inning that extended the Dodgers' lead to 7-2. Dee Gordon grounded into a fielder's choice to first base, scoring Russell Mitchell for the other run.
"Those extra runs made it a lot easier on us," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
Kuroda gave up three consecutive hits to open the sixth, including Alex Presley's leadoff homer, before retiring the next three batters to end the inning.
"Hiro was good," Mattingly said. "He was sharper than his last two outings, like he had a little zip back. It felt like he was throwing the ball where he wanted. The MRI helped him because it let him know there was no damage and gave him the freedom as a player to go out there and let it go."
Pittsburgh's Jeff Locke (0-2) gave up three runs and five hits in three innings, walked two and struck out none in his second major league start after being recalled from Triple-A on Sept. 6.
Locke, who lives in New Hampshire, said it was his first time being out of the Eastern time zone.
"It was very exciting," he said. "It's definitely an honor to come here and pitch in one of the legendary stadiums of all time. I had this adrenaline going. But I wasn't nervous at all. I just left a lot of pitches up and got into a lot of deep counts."
Pittsburgh is 17-39 since July 20, when it was 51-44 and led the NL Central by a half-game.
The Dodgers took a 3-1 lead in the third on Kemp's single that increased his career high RBI total and Juan Rivera's fielder's choice groundout. Barajas tied the game at 1 in the second when his RBI double hit the left-field line.
The Pirates' other run came in the first when Garrett Jones scored on shortstop Gordon's throwing error that sailed past first base.
Kemp had his 51st multi-hit game, the most by a Dodger since Juan Pierre's 59 in 2007. ... Mattingly said he heard from GM Ned Colletti that LHP Clayton Kershaw won't be suspended by MLB after hitting Arizona's Gerardo Parra with a pitch and getting ejected Wednesday. ... Dodgers RHP Jonathan Broxton will have arthroscopic surgery Monday to reduce a spur on his right elbow and remove loose chips. He hasn't pitched since May while bothered by his elbow and a sore back. ... Pirates C Ryan Doumit had two singles to improve to 18 for 49 in 14 career games at Chavez Ravine.