Lack of offense foils Kuroda

Times Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- Hiroki Kuroda didn't complain about the lack of run support, but he was clearly aware that he might have to prepare himself for more nights like the one he had Tuesday.

"When your team scores one run, it's common sense that you have to hold the other team to no runs," Kuroda said. "I want to prepare for my next start so that I won't feel pressure in that situation."

The was the situation Kuroda faced at Wrigley Field, where he blanked the Chicago Cubs over the first six innings, only to be saddled with the loss in the Dodgers' second straight 3-1 defeat.

The inexperience of a lineup that Torre blamed the previous day for its failure to manufacture runs became even more pronounced, as second baseman Jeff Kent sat out because of back spasms. Torre said Kent woke up with tightness in his back and felt it return when he took batting practice. Kent's availability for the final game of the three-game set today is uncertain.

The Dodgers were one for five with runners in scoring position on this windy night, making them six for 51 over their last five games. They mustered only six hits, including four over the first seven innings with Cubs starter Sean Gallagher on the mound.

Kuroda (2-4) shouldered the blame for walking the Cubs' No. 8 hitter, Ronny Cedeno, to start the seventh inning in a game that was nationally televised in Japan in anticipation of his first-ever meeting on American soil with Chicago outfielder Kosuke Fukudome. Kuroda left the game with one out and men on the corners, leaving his fate in the hands of Jonathan Broxton, who couldn't hold the 1-0 lead the Dodgers took in the fourth when Blake DeWitt singled in James Loney. DeWitt made an error that contributed to the Cubs' three-run rally capped by a double by Fukudome that drove in Mike Fontenot.

Kuroda was charged with two runs (one earned) and seven hits over 6 1/3 innings.

The Dodgers had a chance for their own big inning in the eighth, when, for the third time in two days, they loaded the bases with one out. But for the third time in two days, they came up empty.

Striking out under the same circumstances as he did the previous night was Loney, who again came to the plate in the eighth inning of a two-run game with one out and the bags full. Loney came close, driving a ball foul down the right field line, only to strike out three pitches later.

The Dodgers' inability to capitalize on their chances was bothering third base coach Larry Bowa. Tuesday afternoon, Bowa talked about the two strikeouts the Dodgers had with one out and the bases loaded the previous day. DeWitt also struck out in that situation.

"You have to shorten up your swing when you have two strikes," said Bowa, who recently made that point to Loney. "When you hit the ball, there's a chance of a lot of things happening."

Similar to Torre, Bowa didn't question the effort of the young players. But Bowa said he was becoming frustrated that the Dodgers were dropping games because of fundamental errors.

"We lose games because of little things that are happening," Bowa said. "Just by executing these things, you very easily could have three or four more wins. We're not the kind of team that's going to blow people out."

Bowa said he thought that would remain the case unless the Dodgers added help from the outside.

"I really don't think that of all the kids that are here, you have a prolific home run hitter," he said. "I think they will be good baseball players, solid major leaguers, but I don't think, 'This guy's going to hit 40 home runs.' I don't see that, which isn't bad. You don't have to hit 40 home runs to be successful."


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