Based on his track record against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he shouldn’t be too concerned.
The hard-luck Kuroda has a sub-2.00 ERA in six starts versus Pittsburgh, success he’ll hope to see continue Friday night as he tries to avoid becoming just the second Dodger in the last 40 years with 17 defeats.
The Dodgers have given Kuroda (11-16, 3.25 ERA) just 2.15 runs of support per nine innings in the righty’s losses, a stark contrast to the 7.01 runs they’ve provided on average in his 11 victories.
Los Angeles (73-76) has given Kuroda a run apiece in his last two outings, but some additional offense may not have made a difference Sunday. He gave up three runs and eight hits while lasting a season-low 4 2-3 innings in an 8-1 loss that made him the first Dodger to drop 16 decisions since Orel Hershiser in 1987.
“For the most part it looks like he isn’t able to locate like he usually does,” manager Don Mattingly said. “Everybody is entitled to this kind of stretch. He’s not going to cave in. It’s not like he’s missing with everything.”
Another defeat will make him the first Los Angeles pitcher to lose 17 since Fernando Valenzuela in 1984, but facing the Pirates (68-82) might be just what Kuroda needs to avoid that. He’s 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA lifetime against Pittsburgh, including seven innings of three-hit ball in a 2-0 win at PNC Park on May 11.
He also won’t have to worry about facing the man who single-handedly lifted the Pirates to a win in Thursday’s series opener. Starter Ross Ohlendorf(notes), 7 for 100 at the plate in his career coming in, hit a three-run homer in a four-run second and pitched seven strong innings in a 7-2 victory.
“The guy does have lumberjack power. He is lumberjack strong,” Andrew McCutchen(notes) said as the Pirates improved to 18-7 in their last 25 games in which the All-Star center fielder has multiple hits. “It was just a matter of him running into one.”
A day after Pittsburgh sealed its 19th consecutive losing season, it officially eliminated the Dodgers from the NL West race.
Thursday’s victory has Pittsburgh in position to win back-to-back games at Chavez Ravine in the same series for the first time since Sept. 19-20, 2006.
To pull that off, it’ll likely need better control from Jeff Locke(notes) (0-1, 5.40) than the rookie showed in his debut. The left-hander gave up five hits, four walks and three runs over five innings Saturday in a 3-0 loss to Florida.
Locke threw a ball on the first pitch to 12 of the 23 hitters he faced.
“I think he found out - a little bit the hard way - that he’s got to get ahead early to put pressure on guys to swing the bat,” second baseman Neil Walker(notes) told the Pirates’ official website. “His stuff looked very good, very crisp, very sharp. I was impressed with his first outing.”
Pitching to a Dodgers lineup that hasn’t exactly been thriving versus lefties could help. Los Angeles is hitting .219 against southpaws since Aug. 27, striking out 41 times in 151 at-bats.