San Diego (60-77) at Los Angeles (81-56)

Fair Currently: Los Angeles, CA
Temp: 80° F
  • Game info: 8:10 pm EDT Sun Sep 6, 2009
  • TV: ESPN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Hiroki Kuroda’s(notes) last trip to the mound was cut short by a line drive off his head.

He’ll try to shake off the effects of the resulting concussion as he makes his first start since that unfortunate incident Sunday when the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers face the last-place San Diego Padres.

Kuroda (5-5, 4.08 ERA) exited his last start Aug. 15 at Arizona with no outs in the sixth after a liner off the bat of Rusty Ryal(notes) slammed into his head, sending him crashing to the ground.

Four days later, the Japanese right-hander went on the disabled list with a concussion. He’s expected to be activated Sunday after scattering five hits with five strikeouts in five innings for Class-A Inland Empire on Tuesday.

“Yes, I feel lucky. I feel lucky to be alive and to be able to get back on the mound again,” Kuroda said after being released from the hospital the day after he was hit. “You never know what is going to happen in this game.”

Prior to landing on the DL, Kuroda was 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA in six starts with five of them resulting in wins for the Dodgers (81-56).

He’s 4-1 with a 4.83 ERA in six starts against the Padres (60-77), helping Los Angeles to wins in the last four while he’s gone 3-0 with a 4.03 ERA.

Kuroda beat San Diego again on July 3, allowing three runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 6-3 victory.

The Dodgers could use another strong start from Kuroda as they try to improve on their 4 1/2-game lead on Colorado in the West.

Los Angeles, which has alternated wins and losses over the last seven games, maintained its division lead Sunday by beating the Padres 7-4 Saturday, a day after falling 2-0 in the opener of this three-game series.

The Dodgers have won 11 of 14 at home against San Diego.

Manny Ramirez(notes) will likely be back in the lineup after getting Saturday off. The All-Star left fielder is in a 2-for-14 slump over the last four games, and is hitting .239 with three homers and seven RBIs in 20 contests.

He owns a .188 average with two homers and five RBIs in 11 games against San Diego this season.

The Padres had a four-game win streak halted Saturday, losing for only the third time in 11 contests.

They’ll turn to Tim Stauffer(notes) (3-6, 3.76), who is looking for a personal-best three-game winning streak.

The right-hander is coming off a solid performance in Monday’s 3-1 win over Washington, allowing one run in 6 2-3 innings. That came five days after he yielded three runs in five innings of a 12-5 victory at Atlanta.

While Stauffer has shown improvement, he’s walked six over the last two starts after losing his four previous games with a 5.40 ERA.

“It’s about time,” Stauffer told the Padres’ official Web site following Monday’s victory. “I still had a couple of walks, but my aggressiveness was better. I felt like I had better stuff.”

Stauffer is 1-2 with a 5.29 ERA in three starts against the Dodgers. However, he hasn’t faced them since a win on Aug. 21, 2006.

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Starting Pitchers

T. Stauffer NYM vs. H. Kuroda NYY
4-7 Record 8-7
3.58 ERA 3.76
53 K 87
34 BB 24
1.44 WHIP 1.14

Scoreboard

Sunday, Sep 6