There’s no question the Los Angeles Dodgers could use a bat like Adam Dunn’s(notes) in the middle of their lineup. Right now, they’d settle for not having to pitch to the Washington Nationals slugger.
The NL home run leader hit two more as the Nationals took the opener of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium, and he’ll look to continue his success against Hiroki Kuroda(notes) on Saturday night as Washington tries to further spoil Los Angeles’ critical homestand.
The Nationals (49-61) didn’t deal Dunn prior to the July 31 trading deadline but placed him on waivers this week - a common practice after Aug. 1 - leaving open the possibility of negotiating a deal with the team that wins that claim.
Someone put in a claim, but that team is still not known. The Dodgers (56-54) could certainly use him, considering they’ve averaged 2.5 runs in 22 games since the All-Star break. Dunn hit a pair of three-run homers in Friday’s 6-3 win, giving him six in six games.
“That’s how home runs come for me - in bunches,” said Dunn, who has 30 homers. “I mean, I’ll go three weeks and not hit one, and then I’ll go a week where I hit five or six of them. That’s the story of my life.”
While Dunn tied a career high with six RBIs, Los Angeles - 2-3 on its seven-game homestand - has scored six runs once since the break.
Dunn is 6 for 14 with four homers and four walks against the Dodgers this season.
“He’s got as much power as anyone in the game, so he can hit pitches that aren’t necessarily hitter’s pitches and still drive them out,” Dodgers catcher Brad Ausmus(notes) said. “You’d certainly like to have him in the lineup. Either way, I wish somebody had claimed him and he wasn’t playing for the Nationals tonight.”
Dunn hasn’t faced Kuroda (8-10, 3.70 ERA) in 2010, but he’s had lots of success in eight plate appearances against the right-hander, going 3 for 4 with a homer, two doubles and four walks.
Kuroda is 1-5 with a 4.96 ERA in his last six starts, and his most recent outing was particularly ineffective. He gave up five runs and seven hits while lasting four innings in a 10-5 loss to NL West-leading San Diego on Monday.
Kuroda has faced the Nationals once, allowing two unearned runs and four hits over six innings in a 14-2 road win Sept. 22.
His past two have been ugly. Hernandez gave up eight runs and 11 hits over four innings in an 11-2 loss July 9, 2009, while pitching for the Mets, then surrendered eight more over 3 2-3 innings against Kuroda, a month after New York had released him.
Hernandez’s ERA is nearly 2 1/2 runs lower this season, though, and his last two road starts have been particularly impressive. The right-hander went the distance in a 7-1 win at Cincinnati on July 22, then made it through 7 1-3 innings, allowing a run and five hits, in a 3-1 victory at Arizona on Monday.
Hernandez won’t have to face the Dodger that’s had the most sustained success against him. Rafael Furcal(notes), a .387 (29 for 75) hitter with four homers against Hernandez, won’t return until Tuesday at the earliest as he rests his sore lower back.
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