Dodgers stopped by the start

Times Staff Writer

Joe Torre said he wasn’t concerned seeing the gates of the bullpen swing open as often as they did Tuesday night, the manager chalking up the failings of his relievers in an 8-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium as something “uncharacteristic” and nothing more.

“It’s going to happen from time to time,” Torre said of how he used four relievers who gave up a combined four runs at the start of a 16-day stretch in which his team will play every day.

On the day that the Dodgers introduced Greg Maddux as the newest member of the team and starting rotation, there was talk about how the 42-year-old future Hall of Famer isn’t the same pitcher he used to be and how his dwindling durability could affect the bullpen.


Torre and General Manager Ned Colletti acknowledged that Maddux, who averaged fewer than six innings a start with the San Diego Padres, wasn’t likely to decrease the Dodgers’ dependency on their relievers.

That, Torre said, would be someone else’s responsibility. Someone like Hiroki Kuroda.

But Kuroda lasted only six innings, forcing Jason Johnson, Hong-Chih Kuo, Tanyon Sturtze and Ramon Troncoso into the game. Johnson gave up a solo home run to Matt Holliday and Kuo served up a three-run shot to Ian Stewart in a four-run eighth inning for the Rockies that put the game out of reach as the Dodgers dropped a game behind Arizona in the NL West.

Torre said that he would be satisfied to get six innings a start from Maddux, but added, “”You’d like to believe, though, that in that group, somebody’s going to get you to the eighth inning.”

The key, Torre said, was to get two of their five starters to regularly complete seven innings.

Derek Lowe could do it, he said. So could Kuroda.

Kuroda (7-9), who was 2-0 with a 1.21 earned-run average over his previous three starts, ran into immediate trouble on a night when he was charged with four runs and six hits in six innings.

Two runs scored in a three-hit first for the Rockies, but the Dodgers got back a run in the bottom of the inning, as Matt Kemp doubled and scored on a ground-rule double by Jeff Kent.

Kuroda had a painful third inning, the Rockies inflicting damage to him physically and on the scoreboard.

Holliday hit a hard comebacker that ricocheted off his left leg into right field. Trainer Stan Conte came out to examine Kuroda, who said he could continue. Kuroda’s next pitch was launched over the center-field wall by Brad Hawpe for a two-run home run that extended the Rockies’ lead to 4-1.

“It didn’t affect me physically,” Kuroda said. “But I felt like I wasn’t able to transfer my will to the ball on that pitch.”

The contest became a one-run game again in the fourth. Casey Blake doubled and scored on a passed ball by Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez with Kuroda at the plate. Kuroda drew a walk to put men on the corners and Kemp doubled to drive in Blake and advance Kuroda to third. But Andre Ethier struck out looking to end the inning with the Dodgers behind, 4-3.



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How the Dodgers’ starting lineup has changed since July:

*--* JULY POS. TODAY Russell Martin C Russell Martin James Loney 1B James Loney Jeff Kent 2B Jeff Kent Blake DeWitt 3B Casey Blake Luis Maza SS Nomar Garciaparra Juan Pierre LF Manny Ramirez Andruw Jones CF Matt Kemp Matt Kemp RF Andre Ethier Chad Billingsley SP Chad Billingsley Clayton Kershaw SP Clayton Kershaw Hiroki Kuroda SP Hiroki Kuroda Derek Lowe SP Derek Lowe Eric Stults SP Greg Maddux *--*

*--* Source: Times research *--*