06/18/09 2:26 AM ET
Early homers down Kuroda, Dodgers
Right-hander remains winless since return from DL
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
But if the Dodgers want to score a few runs while the starting pitchers are still in the game, it'll be OK with Hiroki Kuroda.
The Opening Day starter remained winless Wednesday night since his return from the disabled list, falling behind early as the Dodgers' customary late rally fell short in a 5-4 loss to Oakland, which snapped the A's four-game losing streak.
"We need to start scoring runs earlier and make it easier on ourselves instead of waiting for the fifth and sixth innings," said center fielder Matt Kemp, who had a sacrifice fly in a two-run sixth inning.
Kuroda trailed, 4-0, in the third inning after a pair of home runs by Rajai Davis (his first) and Jack Cust (his 12th). The Dodgers' offense could have given Kuroda something to work with but came away empty from scoring chances in the first and second innings.
For Kuroda, he's becoming used to it. In four June starts since returning from the disabled list, Kuroda is 0-3, but the Dodgers have scored only two runs total while he's been pitching. In the past two starts, he's allowed nine runs in 11 2/3 innings. But one start before that, he pitched six scoreless innings in a no-decision.
His velocity touched 95 mph Wednesday night against the A's, backing up his claim that the strained oblique muscle that put him on the shelf for almost two months is 100 percent healed.
"I don't think my physical condition is bad," Kuroda said. "I have all my pitches. I haven't had any luck and I mislocated pitches. I just have to be patient and wait for the game I pitch well and win at the same time."
Kuroda allowed single runs in the first and sixth innings, the first one set up by a wild pitch, the last when Cust, dared by the Dodgers' defensive shift to bunt, dropped down a beauty toward the vacated third-base position.
But most of the damage was done by the home runs, and there was no consensus on what went wrong.
"He was trying to overthrow the ball," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "He was like trying to throw the ball through a wall. The home runs were in the middle of the plate. He will gradually get back to where he gets the feel."
Kuroda, though, disagreed.
"The first home run, I was trying to locate the ball and it just didn't go where I wanted," he said. "The second home run, I tried to stay low and the pitch went higher than I expected. I don't think I was overthrowing, I was just missing location."
Whatever he was doing, he was doing it with no margin for error. The Dodgers' offense loaded the bases after two outs in the first inning when A's rookie starter Trevor Cahill threw 12 consecutive balls, but Andre Ethier popped out. In the second inning, Kemp singled, stole second and third, only to be called out at the plate by umpire Adrian Johnson, even though he seemed to slide under the tag of catcher Kurt Suzuki, who took the throw from Cahill after he knocked down Kuroda's comebacker.
"I got in there. He called me out. It happens," said Kemp. "That's all I can say about that."
Cahill retired 11 consecutive batters at one point before the Dodgers finally scored in the fifth inning after Juan Pierre's double, an error by second baseman Adam Kennedy and Orlando Hudson's hit-and-run RBI single. The A's would commit errors to set up unearned runs in the sixth and seventh innings, Kemp's sacrifice fly scoring one run and Ethier's single driving in two more.
"We had opportunities. They gave us extra outs, but unfortunately, we couldn't get the big hit," said Torre.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.