DODGERS: Kuroda's Latest Audition Average

Contending teams scouting Hiroki Kuroda for a possible trade before the July 31 non-waiver deadline didn't see anything Friday night they didn't already know. Or at least, should already know. Kuroda wasn't dominant against the Nationals. He wasn't bad. He gave up some runs early. He kept his team in the game. He didn't get much run support.

Not much different than the majority of his 20 starts this year, or 102 starts since coming to the United States beginning with the 2008 season. He's not a Game One starter in a playoff series, but you definitely want him somewhere in the rotation.

Kuroda left trailing 3-2 with one out in the seventh Friday with a couple runners on base. Scott Elbert and Kenley Jansen stranded those runners, but the Dodgers offense couldn't muster any additional runs and a Scott Hairston grand slam in the ninth gave the Nationals a comfortable 7-2 win in the opener of a nine-game homestand.

If it was Kuroda's final starts with the Dodgers, his final line was almost like his career average.

Kuroda's average start entering the game: 6.11 innings, 5.80 hits, 3.51 ERA, 1.43 walks and 4.48 strikeouts.

Kuroda's stat line on Friday night: 6 1/3 innings, seven hits, three runs (for an updated 3.19 ERA this year), two walks, seven strikeouts. What cost him this game was giving up a two-run home run to pitcher John Lannan, on a 1-2 pitch, the first homer in Lannan's career. Earlier in the week, general manager Ned Colletti asked Kuroda to submit a list of teams that he would refuse a trade, thereby expediting the discussions for himself and his staff.

Kuroda didn't and won't submit that list, according to ESPNLosAngeles.com, because he'd prefer to make a decision as the offers emerge.

That could lead to potentially wasted discussions between the Dodgers and other teams, if Kuroda ends up rejecting a deal that's been reached. The teams rumored to be interested in obtaining Kuroda: Indians, Tigers, Red Sox, Rangers and Brewers.

Don Mattingly might be in his first year as manager, but he's already become accustomed to the art of saying something without saying absolutely what's going on behind the scenes.

"I'm sure (Colletti's) going to make some business decisions as we get closer (to the trading deadline)," Mattingly said. "We haven't had a whole lot of (trade) talk. If you're going to do something, you want to get something for the future."

Kuroda only understands and speaks limited English, so he might not be aware of everything being written about him -- at least, first hand. Noting the Dodgers translator is there, Mattingly said, "He knows what's going on. He knows."

NOTES, QUOTES
--RHP Kenley Jansen struck out all four batters he faced, and ran his scoreless streak to 13 innings since coming off the disabled list. He's now registered 56 strikeouts in 34 innings for a ridiculous 14.82 strikeouts per nine innings.

--C Rod Barajas is 0-for-12 since coming off the disabled list after the All-Star break, and hitless in 22 at-bats going back further. The last time he got a hit was June 12.

--RHP Matt Guerrier surrendered a grand slam to Jerry Hairston in the ninth inning, after Mike MacDougal allowed a double and walk, and Hong-Chih Kuo issued a walk to load the bases. It was the first grand slam the Dodgers allowed since Melvin Mora hit for the Rockies on Sept. 18, 2010.

--3B Casey Blake's neck is improving and he's doing more baseball activities. Still, no timetable on a rehab assignment. Blake's been on the disabled list since July 3, and missed his 15th game Friday. He missed 48 additional games earlier this year with two other injuries that landed him on the DL as well.

--C A.J. Ellis homered for Triple-A Albuquerque on Friday, his first in a non-exhibition game since August 26, 2008, for then-Dodgers affiliate Las Vegas. The long ball drought lasted 1,060 days and 806 games (197 with the Dodgers and 609 in the minors). Ellis did homer in spring training this year, a walkoff blast to beat the Rockies 7-5 on March 24.

BY THE NUMBERS: 16 -- Number of games the Dodgers had gone without allowing a run in the first inning, until Hiroki Kuroda gave up one run Friday night.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "No question. Matt and I have talked about this. There's a lot of guys who have good halves. The difference is gonna be, 'Can you put the whole year together?' We're not there. He's not at a whole year. And even if you get there, if he's going to be an elite guy, it's not one year, it's putting seasons together. And then at some point, you say, 'He's put a career together.' So really, it never stops. That trying to get better and that push to do what he can do, it never stops. That's the challenge for him." -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, when asked if Matt Kemp still has something to prove after a first half that puts him in the running for Most Valuable Player award.

*M*A*S*H 4077 MEDICAL WATCH:
--3B Casey Blake (sore neck) went on the 15-day disabled list July 3. He had been playing through the ailment for several weeks. The injury wasn't healing as quickly as expected as of mid-July, so Blake's return was delayed.

--RHP Jonathan Broxton (bone bruise on right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 4. He threw a bullpen session June 7. He made rehab appearances on June 21 and 23 for Class AAA Albuquerque, but he felt tightness in his elbow when playing catch June 25, and he was shut down from throwing. He had yet to resume throwing as of July 18. There is a chance he might not pitch again for the Dodgers this season.

--RHP Vicente Padilla (right radial nerve irritation) went on the 15-day disabled list May 14. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Rancho Cucamonga on May 29, but was shut down in early June due to a neck ailment. He underwent neck surgery June 16, and he will likely miss the rest of the season.

--RHP Jon Garland (right shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 2. He played catch June 21 but had to shut it down quickly. He underwent season-ending surgery during the All-Star break and began his rehab.