It's all in the numbers for Randy Wolf, who changed to uniform No. 43 for Thursday's start and enjoyed a windfall of runs as the Dodgers beat the Mets, 11-2.
"There's not a baseball player who isn't superstitious, and the ones who tell you they aren't are liars," said Wolf. "I'm happy I changed numbers. We put up 11 runs. I'll take it."
With rumors heating up that the Dodgers will make a run at Toronto ace Roy Halladay or another front-line starter before the Trade Deadline at the end of the month, Wolf set out to dispel misconceptions about the kind of season he's having, brought about by 12 no-decisions in 18 previous starts.
"I feel I've been throwing the ball pretty well," Wolf said. "Obviously, I don't have much to show for it. But the fact I'm on a team with the best record in baseball, and if we continue at this pace, I can get to my first playoff. I'll take that over a whole bunch of wins -- having a ring and celebrating and opening champagne."
Wolf, who had been wearing No. 21, took the No. 43 that injured reliever Will Ohman had (and that Wolf wore for seven years in Philadelphia) and went 6 1/3 innings for his first win since May 28, raising his record to 4-3 and his career mark against the Mets to 12-5.
It was Wolf's 11th quality start and 15th of at least six innings. In 12 of his no-decisions, he was in line for a victory when he left the game. Wolf has a 3.45 ERA and is on pace for a 222-inning season.
Wolf won despite struggling with his command the first three innings, even though he was spotted an unusual 4-0 lead before he even took the mound. Was he thinking the lead was too good to be true, or perhaps belonged to someone else?
"Actually, I thought, 'Don't [mess] this up,'" Wolf said, knowing he needed to get through five innings for the win. "The first three innings, I was frustrated. A 6-1 lead, then it was 6-2 and I was, 'Let's go. I've got to do better than this.' I really don't want that [no-decision] record. Bert Blyleven [21 no-decisions] can keep it."
The Dodgers, who won five of their six games against the Mets this season, got three RBIs from Orlando Hudson and two each from Manny Ramirez, Russell Martin and Juan Castro (who took over for Hudson). Matt Kemp had three hits.
Hudson left the game after being hit by a Brian Stokes pitch near the left knee in the seventh inning, but said after the game he was fine. He expected to play Friday night when the Dodgers open a three-game series in Milwaukee.
Hudson was dropped to seventh in the batting order by manager Joe Torre (Andre Ethier hit second and went 2-for-5) and felt well enough after the game to take a shot at himself when asked if the double was a sign that his bat was heating up.
"I'm still terrible," he said after going 1-for-3. "Got a long way to go."
Rafael Furcal, whose swing started to come around before Ramirez returned -- although Ramirez teasingly takes credit for it -- reached base four times and scored three runs. Furcal is 13-for-29 with nine runs scored since returning to the leadoff role when Ramirez rejoined the club July 3.
Ramirez, who came into the game 5-for-8 lifetime against Mets starter Livan Hernandez, drove in the first run with a first-inning RBI single that scored Furcal, then Hudson cleared the bases with a three-run double. Wolf gave back one run in the bottom of the first when Gary Sheffield singled home Nick Evans, who had walked.
Ramirez singled home Furcal again in the second inning and Casey Blake added an RBI single. Fernando Tatis' double in the third inning led to the second Mets run. A missed call at second base by umpire John Hirschbeck on what should have been a double play extended the top of the fourth inning long enough for Martin's two-run single.
Ramirez had two hits and two walks, playing six innings one night after his first complete game since returning from a 50-game suspension for violating MLB's drug policy.
"I feel great," Ramirez said. "But I'm not 23 anymore. I haven't played for two months. I've got to go baby steps."
The Dodgers scored three more in the eighth, two on Castro's single.