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Dodgers Pack No Punch against Nationals

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If I were Dodgers’ starter Hiroki Kuroda, I’d waive my no-trade clause to the first contender that wanted me and high-tail it out of Dodger Stadium after getting tagged for the Dodgers’ 7-2 loss to the Washington Nationals.

“I really haven’t thought about it,” Kuroda said through translator Kenji Nimura. “I was preparing myself for today’s game. Now that today’s game is over, I just want to relax a little bit. I might do some thinking about it later.”

How very diplomatic of him. As for the game he was preparing for, he didn’t have an easy time in the early going.

“Early in the game I didn’t have all of my stuff,” Kuroda admitted. “My slider and my splitter weren’t there.”

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It was that errant slider that cost Kuroda in the second inning. When opposing starter John Lannan stepped to the plate in the top of the second inning with Ian Desmond on first base, Lannan had a career batting average of .092 (18-for-195.) To this point of the 26-year old’s career, his highlight was his first game in the Major Leagues.

In the bottom of the fifth inning on July 26, 2007 against the Philadelphia Phillies, Lannan inadvertently beaned both Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, breaking Utley’s hand in the process. Home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt ejected Lannan after the Howard plunking. Since then Lannan has gone on to a nondescript career with a 34-44 record and 4.02 ERA.

But that 1-2 errant slider by Kuroda was deposited over the right field wall in center field by Lannan causing Andre Ethier to squat down in shock and the Nationals’ dugout to get slack-jawed in disbelief.

“John Lannan has hit a home run,” Nationals’ television play-by-play announcer Bob Carpenter exclaimed. Then to punctuate the incredulousness of the moment, Carpenter hastily qualified, “At Dodger Stadium!”

And the Nationals had the early 3-0 lead over the Dodgers.

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“We’ve been getting hurt by the pitcher a little bit lately,” Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly said. “You don’t see it very often.”

To Kuroda’s credit he limited the damage from that point on and lasted 6 1/3 innings giving up only those three runs earning his 13th quality start in 20 outings.

“He was a little rough early,” Mattingly noted, “but as the game went on it looked like he got better and better.”

How do the Dodgers’ offense support him? By hoping and wishing for a hit with runners in scoring position. Providence obviously didn’t heed their wishes with the Dodgers going 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. In fact since the All Star Break, the Dodgers have gone 4-for-40 with runners in scoring position.

The only runs the Dodgers got came after Matt Kemp led the inning off with a walk and Juan Rivera laced a double inches fair down the third baseline. Seemingly by fate, shortstop Desmond couldn’t handle Juan Uribe’s grounder sending Kemp and Rivera home.

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“The one inning there just didn’t mount a whole lot of charges after that,” Mattingly said.

It’s become a broken record with this team: they can’t score worth a lick which is what made that 3-2 deficit seemingly insurmountable. “We’re just not able to mount any offense when we need that hit,” Mattingly said. “We’ve got to get it.”

Thankfully the Dodger bullpen eased the pressure a little when Mike MacDougal, Hong-Chih Kuo and Matt Guerrier combined to give up four runs in the ninth inning topped by Jerry Hairston’s grand slam off of Guerrier to make it a 7-2 game.

It’s almost getting to the point of being a pure comedy. Game in and game out Mattingly is asked what there is to do with this offense. And game in and game out the response is similar.

“The main thing we have to do is basically throw some numbers up there, got to get guys out there and give ourselves chances.”

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Now to figure out how to do that, then they’ll be in business.

LA Angels defeat Baltimore Orioles 6-1. Despite the temperature being 104-degrees at the start of the game at Camden Yards, Angels’ starter Ervin Santana flirted with a no-hitter. The first Orioles’ hit was Blake Davis’ one-out double in the sixth inning. After JJ Hardy’s RBI single in the eighth inning knocked Santana out of the game, Hisanori Takahashi closed out the remaining 1 1/3 innings notching his first save allowing no base runners.

Meanwhile back-to-back RBI doubles by Maicer Izturis and Torii Hunter in the seventh inning was enough for Santana, however the Angels decided to get some insurance runs with four in the ninth.

TONIGHT’S ACTION

LA Angels at Baltimore Orioles. 4:05 p.m. FSWest, AM 830 KLAA.

Washington Nationals at LA Dodgers. 7:10 p.m. FS Prime Ticket, AM 790 KABC.

Houston Dynamo at Chivas USA. 7:30 p.m. FSWest, AM 690 W Radio.