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Dodgers Fall in Kuroda’s Return to Mound



Despite a strong five-inning stint from Hiroki Kuroda in his first action since early April, the Dodgers lost for the third time in four games Monday, 3-2, to the Diamondbacks in the first game of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium. Kuroda, placed on the disabled list with a strained left oblique three days after starting the season opener, faced 19 batters and allowed two runs and three hits. He struck out six, walked three and picked a runner off second base. Arizona’s Billy Buckner (2-1, 5.24) pitched even better. He helped the Dodgers get a negative start to June by shutting them out on four hits through six innings. In perhaps his best outing of the season, Buckner struck out five and walked two. Kuroda (1-1) impressed his Dodger teammates with his 85-pitch effort.

“He’s a horse,” catcher Russell Martin said of the Japanese hurler on Dodgers.com. “We saw that last year towards the end of the season. We’ve been struggling getting our starters deep into the game to give our bullpen a break. We know Kuroda can do that.” Kuroda was pleased by his outing, especially because he felt no ill effects from the oblique and expects another start in five days. The Dodgers rallied for two runs in the ninth to make it close and had runners at first and third with two out before Mark Loretta flied out to end the game. Rafael Furcal and Juan Pierre stroked RBI singles in the inning, two of the nine hits (eight singles) the Dodgers notched against four Diamondback pitchers. Pierre collected three hits, and Kemp (double) and Furcal two each. Corey Wade (three) and Brent Leach tied a Dodger franchise record set in 1918 by Larry Cheney by combining for five wild pitches in 2 1/3 innings.

LA Dodgers hats Prior to Monday’s game, the Dodgers split a four-game weekend series on the road against the Cubs. After totaling three runs in taking one of the first three games, LA exploded for five runs in the first inning of the finale en route to an 8-2 triumph. Eric Milton (2-0), with help from Ronald Belisario, Ramon Troncoso, and Jonathan Broxton, was the beneficiary of the onslaught. Furcal, Martin, James Loney, Matt Kemp, and Loretta each contributed two hits to the Dodgers’ 12-hit offense. Kemp homered and Loretta doubled, and Loney and Loretta each drove in two. The Dodgers and Cubs shared 2-1 decisions in the first two games of the series before the Cubs, behind seven innings of shutout pitching by Ryan Dempster, routed LA, 7-0, in the third game.

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Dodger Chatter: Third baseman Casey Blake has missed three straight games because of a strained right hamstring, replaced by Loretta. Blake is the Dodgers’ home run leader with nine. Loretta, hitting .293, made an outstanding leaping catch Sunday in the Dodgers’ triumph. Furcal (strained buttocks muscle) also has missed playing time at short. Juan Castro is hitting .341 as the replacement. With the loss to Arizona, the Dodgers’ home mark dropped to 18-6. They are 17-12 on the road and 10-5 in one-run games. Reed Johnson did his best to stop LA from gaining a split with the Cubs at Wrigley Field. He assaulted Dodger pitching for eight hits in 12 at bats to boost his average to .295. Relievers Broxton (1.44) and Troncoso (1.89) continue to be the only Dodger pitchers with ERAs under 2.00. Eric Stults (4-2, 4.80) has pitched the team’s only complete-game shutout. Randy Wolf (3-1) and Chad Billingsley (6-3) are expected to pitch the remaining two games of the series against the Diamondbacks.


By: Bob Trostler
Los Angeles Dodgers Correspondent

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