Kuroda Loses No-Hitter; L.A. Loses Game

The Dodger's ineffective starting pitching has been the topic of discussion recently and when Hiroki Kuroda took a no-hitter into the seventh, the last thing anyone thought of was a leaky bullpen. But that's what manager Joe Torre got as Joe Beimel, Jon Broxton and Hong-Chih Kuo were, well, awful and the Dodgers dropped their fourth in a row, 8-5 to Houston who swept the three-game series.

Prophetically, it was the 35th anniversary of Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax's tossed a no-hitter against San Francisco 35 years ago. The gem was his second no-hitter and the second in Dodger Stadium history. The left-hander was perfect through seven, faced the minimum through eight, and finished facing just 28 batters. Ed Bailey and Willie McCovey both walked and were the only Giants to reach base.

Kuroda wasn't so lucky and his winless streak reached seven starts. His only victory coming in his major league debut on April 4. It was the third time the bullpen cost Kuroda a win; closer Takashi Saito was responsible for the two other no decisions.

Kuroda allowed only a walk and a hit-batsman before a ground ball rolled through the left side of the infield with two out in the seventh for the first hit of the game. After a walk, Kuroda threw his 97th pitch, a ball, and Torre signaled to the bullpen.

"He was tired," Torre said. "There was a lot of emotion. When you are pitching a close game with a no-hitter on top of it, it takes a lot more out of you. We finally got a starter who pitched as well as Kuroda did today and then it didn't stand up."

For most of the season, the 'pen has been nearly unhittable but this day they coughed up the game in quick order. Beimel walked two, forcing in Kuroda's only run and Broxton took over in the eighth.

The big guy hadn't pitched since Tuesday and it looked like money in the bank as he came in with a 1.80 earned run average. But after 21 pitches that resulted in six hits and six runs and left with a 5.28 ERA and the Dodgers' 18th loss of the season.

Shortstop Rafael Furcal didn't see action again, his stiff back disallowing him to even swing a bat effectively, but it would have taken more than the Dodgers' MVP to turn this one around.

They had numerous opportunities to build on their 2-0 and later 3-1 lead. They went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. James Loney managed the hit, a first-inning home run with Andre Ethier on second base.

That was the extent of the scoring until Kuroda tired in the seventh but Los Angeles scratched out another run in the bottom of the inning when Blake DeWitt doubled and scored on an error.

Kuroda, after making his shortest start of the season his last time out (3.1 innings) rebounded to allow just one run and one hit to the hottest team in the National League. Houston's Nos. 3, 4 and 5 hitters, Miguel Tejada, Lance Berkman, and Carlos Lee, respectively, went a combined 0-for-7 against the right-hander.

He muffled Berkman after the Astros first baseman had banged 18 hits in his last 23 at-bats for an improbable .783 average. He went 0-for-2 and reached only on a fielder's choice against Kuroda.

Kuroda's effort was forgotten when Broxton fell apart and allowed six runs in the top of the eighth. The loss was the fourth straight for Los Angeles and completed a three-game sweep in front of 40,217 on Mother's Day.

"It was about the fourth or fifth inning I started thinking about no-hitters," said Kuroda through a translator. "But we only had two runs and I was concerned about my own pitches and I wanted the team to win. When they got the first hit I was really worried. I just wanted to help the team to win."

Beimel walked two, including Mark Loretta with the bases loaded to force in the Astro's first run.

Beimel got out of the inning thanks courtesy of a remarkable catch by Matt Kemp in center field to save an extra-base hit away with the bases loaded end the inning.

In the eighth, Broxton promptly allowed five hits and three runs before recording a strikeout. He gave up one more hit and left, charged with three more runs, his first blown save of the season and the loss. Hong-Chic Kuo took over and allowed a two-RBI double, then run of his own in the ninth to give the Astros an 8-3 lead.

"They just hit me all the other way," Broxton said. "It wasn't like they were hitting me hard or anything. They were just pecking away, one batter at a time."

The Dodgers made a late comeback when Chin-lung Hu's groundout scored Blake DeWitt, on base with his third hit, from third base with no outs in the ninth, and Andruw Jones drove in Delwyn Young with a long shot to center that took a spectacular effort to run down. Young, who had his first career start at second base on and went 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI.

Andre Ethier, was 3-for-5 with a double, but popped out to third base to end the game.

"It is tough," catcher Russell Martin said after the game. "A guy goes six innings, doesn't give up any hits, you take him out after one hit and the bullpen gives it up for him. Everybody feels bad. You want to win every game you can, especially when a guy's throwing his heart out out there."

The Dodgers are like the poem about the little girl with a curl in the middle of her forehead. "When she is good, she is very, very good but when she is bad she is horrid."

After taking today off to attempt to reorganize, they head to Milwaukee, where they will get a look at old pal friend Eric Gagné for the first time since he left the organization at the end of the 2006 season. Gagné set a major league record with 84 consecutive save conversions for them and won a Cy Young award in 2003 but has been demoted from his closer role after blowing five of his first 14 save opportunities.

The Dodgers have lost four of their last six games at Miller Park. Following the short Wisconsin trip, the club will return to Los Angeles and then play three at Angel Stadium in Anaheim over the weekend. The Dodgers are in the midst of 25 straight games against teams outside of the NL West and will not play a division rival until June 2, when Colorado comes to Los Angeles.

L.A. is now 19-18 and still 3.5 behind the Snakes who lost again to the Cubs.
 Score by innings
Houston	        000 000 161-8
Los Angeles	200 000 102-5

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Pierre lf	4  0  1  0  .281
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Kuo p          0  0  0  0  .000
 Sweeney ph	1  0  1  0  .154
Ethier rf-lf	5  1  3  0  .306
Kemp cf-rf      4  0  1  0  .313
Loney 1b	4  1  1  2  .286
Martin c	3  0  1  0  .287
DeWitt 3b	4  2  3  0  .323
Young 2b	3  1  1  0  .304
Hu ss           3  0  0  0  .208
Kuroda p	2  0  0  0  .133
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Kent ph        1  0  0  0  .250
 Jones ph-cf	0  0  0  1  .170
  Totals	34 5 12 4
  Houston	35 8 10 8

 2b hits- Martin (6), DeWitt (5), Ethier
(8), Young (1). HR- Loney (4). RBI- Loney
(27), Hu (5), Jones (5). S- Young. SF-
Jones. CS- Martin (3), Kemp (3). LOB-
Los Angeles 6, Houston 8.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Kuroda	        6.2  1  1-1  3  5  3.59
Beimel	        0.1  0  0-0  2  0  0.68
Broxton	        0.1  6  6-6  0  1  5.28
Kuo	        1.2  3  1-1  0  1  2.77
 PB- Martin. HBP- by Kuroda. T- 3:31.
Att- 40,217.
What to Do About Nomar
Injured 3B Nomar Garciaparra will make the trip to MIlwaukee with the Dodgers and take part in a morning workout and then a decision will be made where and when he will rehab. The most likely scenario is with Class A Inland Empire. Manager Joe Torre indicated that it was almost certain Garciaparra would need a quick minor league stint before returning to the big club.

Schmidt Throws Perfect inning
Jason Schmidt, pitching for Inland Empire, retired the Lancaster JetHawks in order on a fly ball to center and two grounders to short, using only 12 pitches in his first rehab assignment since undergoing shoulder surgery on June 20, 2007. It is anticipated he will require a number of minor league starts before returning to action with the Dodgers.

Mother's Day Celebration – The Dodgers wished a Happy Mother's day to all the moms in attendance, with the first 25,000 receiving lip gloss, courtesy of Smashbox Cosmetics. As an added treat, Dodger players, coaches, and legends handed out 10,000 roses to moms as they made their way through the turnstiles.

They were treated to the vocal styling of Melissa Manchester singing the "National Anthem" and performed her latest song, "The Power of Ribbons," which she wrote in honor of Dodger season ticket holder Nancy Colton, who is fighting breast cancer and will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Following the game, the Dodgers hosted a Mother's Day "Walk In The Park," where moms and their kids were invited to stroll around the warning track.  

Dodger Blue Notes-- Delwyn Young made his first career start at second base, giving Jeff Kent a day off. Young, the Dodgers' best pinch-hitter this season, going 6-for-18 (.333), doubled in three trips. Kent recently moved passed Jim Gilliam and into fifth place on the all-time list for games played by a second baseman in Los Angeles Dodger history at 410. Young's lineup debut means the Dodgers have now used 33 different lineups in 37 games. ...The umpire rotation saw Crew Chief Tim Welke at third base and his brother Bill Welke at first base, working together on the same crew this season for the second time in their careers. ...Before the meltdown, the Dodger bullpen ranked second in the Major Leagues with a 2.72 ERA, trailing just the Philadelphia Phillies (2.64). Since April 27, the bullpen had posted a 1.33 ERA. During that stretch, the ‘pen was 5-0 while limiting the opposition to a .190 batting average and fanning 8.7 batters per nine innings.