The Rockies will be out to avoid a fourth straight shutout loss on the road to the Los Angeles Dodgers when the National League West rivals continue an important three-game series this evening at Chavez Ravine.
Colorado was blanked in back-to-back defeats to Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium from May 8-9, and failed to score once again in Tuesday's opener of this set. The Rockies mustered only six hits -- all singles -- against Clayton Kershaw and three Dodger relievers in a 6-0 setback last night.
Kershaw (11-7) threw the first seven innings and yielded five hits while walking three and recording six strikeouts to gain the win. The young left- hander worked out of a few early jams and labored through 116 pitches on the night, but was able to escape without any damage.
"My stuff is alright, being aggressive was the main thing," Kershaw said afterward. "I felt good after seven (innings). I never want to come out of a game, but it's not my decision."
Los Angeles broke a scoreless deadlock by crossing the plate five times in the bottom of the fifth, with Scott Podsednik and James Loney each delivering two- run doubles off Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin during the uprising. Casey Blake added an RBI single and finished 2-for-4 to help the Dodgers prevail for only the second time in their past seven games.
Chacin (5-9) was hung with the loss after giving up five runs and walking five batters in a five-inning stint.
Colorado has now not scored in 21 consecutive innings at Dodger Stadium and is 3-11 in its last 14 games as the visitor in this series. Los Angeles has taken five of the seven overall meetings between the divisional foes so far in 2010 and is 19-6 against the Rockies since the start of last season.
"We had situational hitting in the first, third and fifth innings, and they all got away from us," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said after Tuesday's loss. "It came down to one inning of offense for them, none for us."
Colorado's offense will attempt to break out tonight in a matchup with Hiroki Kuroda, a pitcher the club has had good success against in the past. The Dodgers right-hander is 0-3 with a poor 7.57 earned run average over five career starts against the Rockies, including a May 29 setback at Coors Field in which he was battered for seven runs (five earned) and 10 hits before exiting after only four innings.
Kuroda comes into this evening's clash having lost three straight and six of his past seven decisions, although he's pitched well in each of his last two starts. The Japanese native limited Atlanta to a run and four hits over seven sharp innings in a hard-luck 1-0 defeat last Friday, six days after surrendering just two runs and three hits while fanning eight in seven frames of an August 7 no-decision against Washington.
For the season, Kuroda is 8-11 with a 3.53 ERA in 23 starts and holds a 4-4 mark at Dodger Stadium.
Tracy will hand the ball tonight to the struggling Jason Hammel, who's notched just one victory over his last six mound trips. Despite having gone 1-4 with a 5.18 ERA since the All-Star break, the right-hander has been at least been able to pitch at least seven innings in four of those six mound trips.
Hammel reached the seven-frame mark once again in Thursday's road start against the New York Mets, but received a loss after allowing four runs on eight hits in a 4-0 verdict. He was able to beat the hapless Pittsburgh Pirates in his previous assignment by tossing six innings of three-run ball back on August 6.
The 27-year-old, a double-digit winner for Colorado a year ago, has yet to face the Dodgers this season. Hammel is 0-1 with a very solid 2.25 ERA in five career appearances (two starts) against Los Angeles, and permitted just one run over eight innings in a frustrating 1-0 loss during his lone Dodger Stadium start on July 1, 2009.
Both teams, each of whom reached the playoffs in 2009, are currently fighting to stay in the postseason race. Colorado is six games back of Philadelphia for the lead in the NL Wild Card standings at the moment, with the Dodgers one game behind the Rockies in the pecking order.