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Hiroki Kuroda wins the duel as Dodgers beat Pittsburgh, 2-0

He and Paul Maholm go head to head through five scoreless innings, but Dodgers break through in the sixth. Kuroda's good outing helps short-handed bullpen. Vicente Padilla gets his third save.

May 11, 2011|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda delivers a pitch during the first inning of the Dodgers' 2-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday.
Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda delivers a pitch during the first inning… (Charles LeClaire / U.S.…)

Reporting from Pittsburgh — The Dodgers reverted to their usual low-scoring form Wednesday night, but so did the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Hiroki Kuroda blanked the Pirates over seven innings in a 2-0 victory for the Dodgers at PNC Park on Wednesday night, limiting the opposition to three hits.

"He was pretty good tonight, huh?" Manager Don Mattingly said. "That was huge."

That was particularly true because the Dodgers were short-handed in the bullpen, as Hong-Chih Kuo was placed on the disabled list and Blake Hawksworth was unavailable because of a mild groin strain.

Kuroda (4-3) struck out eight, as he made effective use of his split-finger fastball.

"I gave up a home run on a splitter in my last start in New York and I made sure to remember how upset that made me," he said.

Kuroda waged a pitchers' duel with Paul Maholm through five scoreless innings, but the Dodgers broke through in the sixth.

The Dodgers loaded the bases and Ivan De Jesus Jr. scored when Juan Uribe grounded into a double play. With Andre Ethier at third, Maholm intentionally walked Rod Barajas to face rookie Jerry Sands, who started the game hitting .206.

Sands doubled to right, driving in Ethier.

Matt Guerrier pitched a scoreless eighth inning and Vicente Padilla logged his third save to preserve the victory.

Padilla said his transition from starting to closing has been relatively seamless.

"My only concern was how I would prepare myself between outings," he said.

He said his mentality in games hasn't changed.

"Tonight, I thought as if I had a 2-0 lead in the first inning," Padilla said. "My aim was to preserve a two-run lead."

Mattingly said he likes what he has seen from Padilla in that role, which was vacated when Jonathan Broxton was placed on the disabled list last week.

"The biggest thing with Chief, he's got great stuff," Mattingly said. "It gives you confidence that he throws strikes. He comes in, he attacks, he can pitch both sides with his fastball. He doesn't miss too often. He usually doesn't put himself in trouble."

Maholm's record dropped to 1-5. In Maholm's eight starts, the Pirates have scored a total of 12 runs.

Elbert called up

To replace Kuo on the active roster, the Dodgers called up former first-round draft pick Scott Elbert from triple-A Albuquerque.

Elbert, 25, has pitched in 30 major league games over the last three seasons but said he felt different standing in the Dodgers' clubhouse this time around.

"I feel more relaxed," Elbert said. "That's something that comes with maturity."

Elbert said he grew up a lot last season, when he left Albuquerque without offering an explanation.

"I just had to get myself together," he said.

Asked whether he thought his career was over at that point, Elbert said, "It's one of those things you really don't know."

Elbert posted a 5.02 earned-run average in his first 13 triple-A games this year, but seven of his eight earned runs were given up in two appearances. He said he encountered trouble only on days he was asked to pitch a second inning of relief.

Short hops

Hawksworth said he was optimistic that he could avoid the disabled list, claiming he woke up Wednesday feeling no worse than he did the previous night. Mattingly said he was hopeful Hawksworth would miss only three days. … Casey Blake took ground balls for the first time since he had a minor elbow operation. ... Ethier has reached base in 35 consecutive games, the longest Dodgers streak since Jeff Kent's 39-game streak in 2007.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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