SAN DIEGO (AP)—Hiroki Kuroda acknowledged he was a little nervous before his big league debut.
It sure didn’t show.
Kuroda was brilliant in his first start in the United States, holding San Diego to three hits in seven innings and leading the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 7-1 win Friday night.
Kuroda frustrated the Padres with a mix of fastballs and sliders, plus an occasional splitter. The right-hander allowed Brian Giles’ first homer of the season, but otherwise limited the Padres to two singles while striking out four and walking none.
“Even though he’s a rookie in this league, he’s been pitching and he certainly just went out and took charge tonight,” manager Joe Torre said. “I was very, very impressed. He didn’t seem to have any nerves at all. His pitch count was great. He did a lot of things tonight.”
The 33-year-old Kuroda was one of the Dodgers’ big offseason acquisitions, signing a $35.2 million, three-year contract in December. He spent the previous 11 seasons with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the Japanese Central League, where he was 103-89 with a 3.69 ERA in 271 games.
“I didn’t think that I was going to be able to win so early in the season,” Kuroda said through a translator. “Obviously I prepared so much for this game, but it’s only one game, so game by game, pitch by pitch, I want to go forward from here.”
Kuroda said he was a little nervous before the game, “But I’ve experienced this nervousness in Japan before. Overall I think I was able to pitch my pitches.”
Kuroda (1-0) got the game ball, and Torre gave him the lineup card.
“He was deceptive,” Giles said. “His ball gets on you quicker than you think. It was good to see him tonight and I hope we make adjustments and do a little bit better the next time we see him.”
Kuroda squared up to bunt in the seventh, but ended up walking and scoring on Russell Martin’s first hit of the season, a two-run single. A meltdown by the Padres’ bullpen led to six runs that inning.
The right-hander kept the Padres off the basepaths until starter Justin Germano singled to right on a 3-2 fastball with two outs in the third.
The Padres didn’t get another baserunner until the sixth, when Giles drove a 2-0 pitch over the home run porch down the right-field line with two outs to tie the game at 1.
After retiring Matt Kemp to open the inning, Thatcher walked Blake DeWitt, Kuroda and Rafael Furcal to load the bases. Martin, who was 0-for-13 coming into the inning, hit a 2-2 pitch past the outstretched glove of second baseman Tadahito Iguchi to bring in DeWitt and Kuroda, and chase Thatcher.
“It’s inexcusable to walk the pitcher, especially when he’s trying to give you an out,” Thatcher said. “Some of those pitches were close but they were definitely balls. You can’t hurt yourself like that.”
Overall, the Padres walked seven.
“It was uncharacteristic of our staff,” manager Bud Black said. “Joe has had a way of wriggling out of situations, but just couldn’t wriggle out of this.”
In the third, with two outs and Furcal on second base, Martin smoked a line drive toward center field but was robbed on a sensational diving catch by shortstop Khalil Greene.
Germano allowed an unearned run on three hits in six innings, struck out three and walked two.
“I faced these guys last year, so I had a pretty good idea of how to pitch to them,” Germano said. “I was definitely able to keep them off balance.”
RHP Chan Ho Park joined the Dodgers on Friday night after they purchased his contract from Triple-A Las Vegas on Thursday. … Padres manager Bud Black said CF Jim Edmonds remains on track to be activated from the disabled list before Saturday afternoon’s game. Edmonds went 2-for-3 in his second and final rehab game at Class-A Lake Elsinore and played five innings in CF. He strained his right calf March 6 in a spring training game.