LOS ANGELES (AP) - Considering the lack of run support Hiroki Kuroda has received from the Los Angeles Dodgers' inconsistent lineup, he'd probably be much better off with another club - preferably one that would want his services for the stretch drive and can put up some offense.
But if he left, it would be with mixed emotions - because this is the only major league team he has played for since leaving Japan in 2008 after 11 seasons pitching in Hiroshima.
The 36-year-old right-hander managed to maintain his concentration as long as he could during his 3-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday night, despite weeks of constant speculation that he might be dealt before Sunday's non-waiver trade deadline.
``My honest feeling right now is that I just can't fathom wearing another uniform but the Dodgers uniform,' Kuroda said through a translator following his fourth straight loss.
Kuroda (6-13) allowed one run and six hits over six innings with six strikeouts, but is 1-10 over his last 12 starts despite a more-than-adequate 3.38 ERA during that stretch.
``Every time you go on the mound, you go out there to win,' Kuroda said. ``So it's really frustrating and also disappointing at the same time when you lose. I've experienced that disappointment 13 times already this season.'
Aaron Cook (2-5) outpitched him with seven scoreless innings and Troy Tulowitzki had a pair of RBI singles among his three hits, helping the Rockies avoid a three-game sweep.
Cook scattered six hits, struck out two and walked two in his longest outing of an injury-delayed season. The 32-year-old right-hander, who missed the first two months with a broken finger on his pitching hand, has won consecutive starts after going 0-5 with a 5.82 ERA in his first seven outings.
``I just went out tonight with the mindset of just attacking the zone. And if I was going to miss, I was going to miss down,' Cook said. ``The big thing was they were swinging at pitches early, so I gained more confidence quicker and was able to mix in my breaking ball and slider a little bit to keep them off-balance. I never got out of rhythm the whole game, and that was huge.'
Cook got 13 of his 21 outs on grounders. Last season his percentage of groundball outs was 74.2, his highest since 2005.
``I'm not going to speculate after seven starts, but what we've had are two very consistent outings,' Rockies manager Jim Tracy said when asked if Cook was all the way back. ``From the outset he was pounding the strike zone and sinking his pitches, especially early in the count, so he did not afford the Dodger hitters an opportunity to be able to get any type of count where they were able to sit on anything. And as a result, his performance was terrific.'
Rex Brothers pitched the eighth, giving up a two-out double to Matt Kemp, and Huston Street earned his 27th save in 29 attempts. He threw 31 pitches, allowing Rod Barajas' ninth homer with one out in the ninth.
Colorado broke through in the fifth when Tulowitzki drove in Eric Young Jr. from second with the Rockies' third straight two-out single. Kuroda minimized the damage by striking out Ty Wigginton after loading the bases with an intentional walk to Seth Smith.
``He's shown focus the whole season. That's him. He's a true professional,' Dodgers teammate Aaron Miles said. ``He's been great. His record doesn't indicate how well he's pitched, and we all feel bad that we haven't been able to give him some more wins. But he gives us a chance to win every time out.'
Wigginton, who had only four RBIs in his previous 20 games, came to the plate in the seventh batting just .154 this season with runners in scoring position. But he found a pitch to his liking from Blake Hawksworth and lined a double to left field that scored Tulowitzki, who doubled with two outs. Tulowitzki drove in the final run with a ninth-inning single against Hawksworth.
The frustrated Dodgers stranded a runner at second in three of the first four innings. Rafael Furcal drew a two-out walk in the fifth and tried to get into scoring position for Andre Ethier, but was thrown out by Eliezer Alfonzo.
``Cook had a good sinker going tonight,' Miles said. ``He left the ball up a little bit sometimes, but his ball still had some good run on it and he was teasing the zone with it. He had good movement and didn't get into too much trouble.'
Ethier led off the sixth with a routine grounder to shortstop that Tulowitzki bobbled, but he had plenty of time to recover and make the throw because Ethier didn't bother to run it out at full speed. As a result, he heard it from the crowd of 29,976 during his long walk back to third base dugout.
Notes: The Dodgers' bullpen was a man short after RHP Kenley Jansen was hospitalized Tuesday night and all day Wednesday with an irregular heartbeat following his seven-pitch save in Clayton Kershaw's 3-2 victory. Jansen was expected to be released from White Memorial Medical Center on Thursday after undergoing more tests. ... Rockies 1B Todd Helton, 4 for 16 lifetime against Kuroda, wasn't in the starting lineup because Tracy wanted to rest him. Helton entered the game in the ninth for defense.
The Associated Press News Service
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