Kuroda, Dodgers roughed up by Rockies
Righty touched for five earned runs in four-plus innings
DENVER -- Hiroki Kuroda didn't spend the day fending off bogus accusations like teammate Vicente Padilla, but his Saturday night at Coors Field was no picnic either.
The worst start of the season for Kuroda resulted in an 11-3 loss to the Rockies for the Dodgers, who need a win in Sunday's series finale to break even on this six-game trip.
Kuroda (5-3) was removed after the first two batters in the fifth inning singled. He was charged with seven runs (five earned) on 10 hits, including a solo homer by Carlos Gonzalez. Kuroda is 0-3 with a 7.57 ERA lifetime against Colorado.
"Was it the extra day of rest I gave him?" manager Joe Torre asked facetiously. "He's fine physically. You just have to chalk it up and move on. You go out there every five or six days all year long and you're going to throw in some clunkers. That's what happened today.
"It was interesting. He was either just off the edges or right down the middle of the plate."
Kuroda struggled with his command from the first batter, Gonzalez, whom he hit with a breaking ball when his spikes slipped and he lost his balance during his delivery. That got a two-run rally started.
Kuroda said he didn't have his slider, echoing the complaints of pitchers trying to throw breaking balls in the thin air ever since the Major Leagues came to the Mile High City.
But Kuroda stopped short of blaming the altitude or the ballpark or the wind that was swirling in the early innings.
"I just didn't have my stuff today and that summarizes what I did today," he said.
Of course, it also could be that Kuroda doesn't match up well with the Rockies and their lineup, which manager Jim Tracy loaded with five left-handed hitters.
"They punished our mistakes," said catcher A.J. Ellis, who caught as Russell Martin took a break. "We weren't able to get away with anything. We were behind in the count and that's tough to do against a good, aggressive-hitting ballclub. They hunt the fastball, and when we were forced to throw one, they make you pay."
The Dodgers compounded Kuroda's problems with mistakes. Rafael Furcal, who had an otherwise big game with three hits and several difficult backhand plays, made a throwing error that led to two unearned runs. Kuroda short-circuited a rally by getting picked off second base.
"What happens after that point is 13 extra pitches he has to throw and two runs we scored," said Tracy. "It becomes a 5-0 game. If you want to be a really good team like you want to be, little things like that mean an awful lot.
"When we had the opportunity to put them away, we put them away instead of letting them hang around the whole game," said Tracy in a vague reference to the night before, when the Dodgers rallied from a four-run deficit to win.
Lefty Scott Elbert's season debut for the Dodgers, one day after his callup, was a wild ride in relief of Kuroda, as he walked three left-handed hitters.
"Probably a lot of adrenaline," said pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, "but here, after a hitter or so, you've got to make the adjustment."
Justin Miller, promoted one day before Elbert, made his Dodgers debut by getting Troy Tulowitzki to pop out with the bases loaded in relief of Elbert and end the fifth inning, then pitch a 1-2-3 sixth with a strikeout. Jeff Weaver retired the first five batters he faced, then allowed four consecutive batters to reach base and was charged with three runs.
Offensively, the Dodgers could do nothing with sinker specialist Aaron Cook until a three-run rally in the seventh inning, but by the time that started, they were down by eight. The rally included a triple by Matt Kemp and RBI singles by James Loney, Ellis and Furcal.
After the game, Torre said he would give Manny Ramirez Sunday's game off, but was undecided about Furcal and Casey Blake.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.