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PHILLIES 11, DODGERS 0

Dodgers lose ugly to Phillies

Hiroki Kuroda gives up six runs in 11/3 innings, Cliff Lee gives up three hits in eight innings and Phillies have a 2-1 series edge.

October 19, 2009|DYLAN HERNANDEZ

PHILADELPHIA — Hiroki Kuroda pursed his lips and craned his neck. He scratched the back of his head and grunted.

"I'll replay this in my head," he said Sunday as he dressed in a nearly empty clubhouse.

There wasn't much for him to replay.

On a night when the Dodgers were held to three hits in eight innings by Cliff Lee in a crushing 11-0 Game 3 defeat that tilted the National League Championship Series in favor of the Philadelphia Phillies, Kuroda retired only four batters.

Kuroda made the kind of history he never envisioned making when he took the mound for the first time since Sept. 28: His 1 1/3 -inning effort was the shortest postseason start by a Dodgers pitcher in more than two decades. Pounded for six runs and six hits by a Phillies lineup similar to the one he beat last October, Kuroda sent the Dodgers on their way to matching their most lopsided playoff margin of defeat in franchise history.

The last time the Dodgers lost a postseason game by as many runs was in the opening game of the 1959 World Series.

"I had to stop it somewhere," Kuroda said. "I couldn't."

The concerns about starting pitching that the Dodgers put aside by claiming the league's best record and sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL division series resurfaced at the worst of times.

By the end of the first inning, the Dodgers trailed, 4-0. By the end of the second, they were down, 6-0.

They never had a chance, not with the way Lee completely dominated them.

The Dodgers will head into Game 4 tonight trailing the series, 2-1. To get the series back to Dodger Stadium, they will have to win at least one of two games in a ballpark where they are 2-8 over the last two seasons.

Starting for the Dodgers tonight will be Randy Wolf, who lasted only 3 2/3 innings in his first career playoff game in Game 1 of the NLDS. Torre hasn't named a starter for Game 5.

Kuroda said the time he spent sidelined -- he didn't pitch in the previous round because of a bulging disk in his neck -- wasn't a factor. He also wouldn't blame the cold -- the game-time temperature was 46 degrees -- or the 45,721 towel-waving fans who screamed every time a Phillie drove one of his pitches into the outfield.

"At the moment I took the mound, it was my job to get results," he said.

Manager Joe Torre said that the elected to start Kuroda instead of Chad Billingsley in this game because of how he was able to command his pitches in a simulated game at the Dodgers' spring training complex last week.

But on this night, Kuroda couldn't locate anything.

Of the first 37 pitches he threw, 19 were balls. He constantly fell behind hitters.

What happened?

"Mmmm . . . " he said. "I wonder . . ."

Kuroda started the game by forcing Jimmy Rollins to fly out, then he unraveled.

Back-to-back hits by Shane Victorino and Chase Utley set up a two-run triple by Ryan Howard.

A home run to center by Jayson Werth increased the deficit to 4-0 and prompted Billingsley to start warming up in the bullpen.

Doubles by Carlos Ruiz and Rollins in the second inning put an end to Kuroda's night. Kuroda was replaced by left-hander Scott Elbert, who had to be replaced by Billingsley before the end of the inning.

Billingsley was charged with two runs, two hits and two walks in 3 1/3 innings.

Torre said he didn't second-guess his decision to start Kuroda, who had two lengthy stints on the disabled list in the regular season because of a strained side muscle and a concussion he suffered a result of a line drive he took off his head.

"I don't second-guess the decision because we made it on what we saw," Torre said. "The ball didn't behave. That's basically all I can tell you about that."

But Torre made no promises about what Kuroda's role would be for the rest of the series, something Kuroda seemed to sense without being told.

Kuroda sounded resigned to the reality that this was the way his season could end, saying, "To experience this might not be the worst thing. If I can remember how upset I am, I might be able to turn this into a positive."

But the troubles the Dodgers have had on the mound -- Clayton Kershaw couldn't get out of the fifth inning in a Game 1 loss -- have been matched by their shortcomings at the plate.

Of the Dodgers' eight hits in the last two games, none were for extra bases. Their entire offensive output through six innings Sunday consisted of a pair of harmless singles by Manny Ramirez, who was serenaded by chants of "You took steroids," in the seventh inning.

Referring also to how the Dodgers were held to two hits over seven scoreless innings by Pedro Martinez in Game 2, Andre Ethier said, "I think it's good pitching. Sometimes you run into it."

--

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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