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Clayton Kershaw figures to pitch Game 2 of division series.

Hiroki Kuroda is scratched from Saturday's start because of a stiff neck.

October 01, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

SAN DIEGO — Clayton Kershaw's postseason experience last year consisted of two innings over two games of the National League Championship Series.

The 21-year-old left-hander figures to play a greater role this October.

Kershaw is scheduled to make his final start of the season against the Colorado Rockies on Saturday, which would put him in line to pitch in Game 2 of the NL division series on Oct. 8.

Randy Wolf is starting Friday, making him the likely Game 1 starter.

Hiroki Kuroda originally was scheduled to pitch Saturday, but a stiff neck has led to his being scratched from his last start of the season.

"Probably from turning my head around so often the last time I pitched," Kuroda said, jokingly referring to his start in Pittsburgh on Sunday when he gave up seven runs in four innings. "Maybe it was the last home run."

Kuroda guessed that the cross-country flight from Pittsburgh to San Diego soon after pitching might be the source of his neck pain.

"I feel my age," said Kuroda, who turned 34 in February.

Manager Joe Torre said that Kuroda probably would pitch in a simulated game before the postseason.

Party like a big leaguer

Among the players most anticipating the Dodgers' division-clinching champagne celebration is George Sherrill, the left-handed setup man the Dodgers acquired from last-place Baltimore on July 30.

"It'll be an experience to do this," said Sherrill, who has been on last-place teams in four of his five previous major league seasons.

Sherrill has won in the lower levels of baseball.

In the four complete seasons he played in independent ball, his teams reached the postseason each time. Not that the way they celebrated when they clinched playoff berths were particularly memorable.

"You'd get like a can of beer," he said.

He also won a Texas League title with the Seattle Mariners' double-A affiliate in San Antonio. Champagne was provided, but not much.

"It wasn't a bottle a person," Sherrill said. "It was first-come, first-serve.

"Here, I don't think that will matter."

Belliard worried

about sharpness

Out for the last three days because of a strained groin, Ronnie Belliard admitted to being concerned about how many at-bats he'll be able to get before the postseason.

Belliard, who is hitting .342 since being acquired from Washington on Aug. 31, said he felt better Wednesday but had no idea when he would play again.

"Timing is something that can be lost very quickly if you don't play games," Belliard said.

Torre said he anticipated that Belliard and Casey Blake, who has sat out the last eight games because of a strained left hamstring, would at least be available to pinch-hit when the Dodgers play Friday.

Furcal heating up

Of Rafael Furcal's 11 steals this season, five came in the Dodgers' last 12 games heading into Wednesday.

Furcal had scored only 35 runs in the first three months of the season, but his season total was at 91 through Tuesday.

"I'm feeling a lot stronger," said Furcal, who underwent a midseason back operation last season that sidelined him for 4 1/2 months.

Furcal said pep talks from Manny Ramirez have kept his spirits up in what has often been a frustrating season.

Said Ramirez: "I've kept telling him, 'You can do it.'

"I've kept telling him that he was one of the best shortstops in the major leagues. You're not going to hit .340, .300 every year."


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