Kershaw Loses Battle of the Kids

Clayton Kershaw and John Danks of Chicago went head-to-head with the White Sox youngster having the easier time facing the punchless Dodgers who have 51 home runs while Kershaw faced the Sox who have 102. Both are very talented, both are inexperienced and although both of them struggled, Danks caught a number of breaks that helped him to a 2-0 win.

Danks (5-4) won for the first time since May 29 after getting a no-decision in each of his previous four starts. The 23-year-old left-hander allowed four hits and issued a season-high four walks as the White Sox won the rubber game of the interleague series. He lowered his road ERA to a major league-best 1.48.

Kershaw seems to be hexed. The 20-year-old left-hander is winless in seven big league starts since his promotion on May 24 and is actually without a win in 16 professional starts dating to Aug. 20, 2007. He has allowed 16 earned runs, 33 hits and 22 walks in 33 innings with Los Angeles.

The Dodgers top pitching prospect is 0-2 and has an earned-run average of 4.36, but a telling statistic provides a bit more information. In his seven starts, the Dodgers have scored eight runs while Kershaw has been in the game. Thursday, the Dodgers had only five hits, one after the fourth inning.

He gave up just two runs on six hits in four innings but struggled throughout, walking four. "I just didn't have a whole lot working for me today," Kershaw said. "The curveball was all right, the other two (fastball and changeup) weren't so good."

But manager Joe Torre don't think that he would be better served returning to the minors. "I don't necessarily see him going backward in the quality of his starts. I think he's learning something. It might be something subtle every time out. I don't see him as being lost out there or not feeling he can handle the situation."

Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt calls himself a witness to that progress, but because of lack of run production, every mistake might cost him the game. We're asking this kid on certain evenings to be perfect and not give up anything," Honeycutt said. "That's unrealistic."

The difference in the game was as slight as the White Sox winning margin.

The Dodgers had three stolen bases in the first inning and didn't score. They left eight runners on base, three of them at third in the first four innings. They were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

Juan Pierre led off with a single, then stole second and third. Matt Kemp walked and stole second but Martin fouled out and James Loney lined to short.

Delwyn Young walked and Angel Berroa hit into a double play in the second before Danny Ardoin beat out an infield hit. Pierre led off the third by reaching on an error and Kemp singled him to third but Russ Martin struck out and another double play, this one struck by Loney ended that threat. It was the 17th double play Loney has grounded into this season, the most in the majors.

Then came the chance to break the game open and get Danks out of the game.

Andy LaRoche led off the fourth with a double down the left field line and moved to third on a ground ball by Young. Berroa ripped a shot up the middle and Danks reached behind his back in a reflex action and the ball hit in the pocket of his glove and stuck. He nearly nipped LaRoche off the base at third.

With runners at first and third and one out, Ardoin lined a ball headed toward center field but Danks jumped and caught it, this time doubling Berroa off first base to end the inning.

In the fifth, Mark Sweeney lined out to left, Juan Pierre missed a double/triple down the left field line by inches before before also lining to left, Kemp walked and Martin almost hit a ball off the right field wall but Jermain Dye leaped at the last minute and made the catch.

That pretty much ended the Dodgers' portion of the offense. The next 12 outs were interrupted only by Luis Maza's single to center and a walk to Kemp.

Despite his command problems, Kershaw didn't let the game get completely away. Trailing 2-0 in the third, he stranded a two men on with one out situation. He put men on the corners to start the fourth but the threat by delivering a full-count curveball to strike out Cabrera looking.

The Dodgers' bullpen, Brian Falkenborg, Cory Wade and Ramon Troncosco followed Kershaw with five scoreless innings. Falkenborg got a 1-2-3 double play with the bases loaded in the fifth to save Kershaw further damage.

"We had Danks on the ropes, but we just couldn't get that big hit today," Pierre said. "It's a tough loss."

Catcher Russell Martin made his fourth start at third base and made a nice barehanded pickup of a bunt in the second inning and threw the bater out after a leadoff walk. Martin has made one error in 14 chances at third.

The Dodgers had just five hits but did work four walks. "Sometimes we try to hit the ball too hard," Torre said. "You have Russell and James up there, and they've been the most consistent guys so far. It's not that they have anything to learn, it's just that they have to make sure every at-bat they are taking the situation into consideration."

The defeat kept the Dodgers from moving to within two games of the division-leading Arizona Diamondbacks who were idle. The last time the Dodgers were that close to the division lead was May 30.

There wasn't much good news this day and the bad news was that the Angels' red-hot pitching staff coming in for a three-game series starting tonight at Dodger Stadium. Angels starting pitchers lead the major leagues with 41 victories and have held opponents to two earned runs or less in 21 of the team's past 25 wins.

Pitching matchups for the series:
Friday Joe Saunders (11-3, 3.03 ERA) and Chan Ho Park (2-2, 2.83)
Saturday Jered Weaver (7-7, 4.56) and Chad Billingsley ((6-7, 3.64)
Sunday James Lackey (11-3, 3.03) and Derek Lowe (5-7, 4.05)

  Score by Innings
White Sox	011 000 000-2
Dodgers	        000 000 000-0

  Dodges	ab r  h  bi  ave
Pierre lf-cf	4  0  1  0  .276
Kemp cf        	2  0  1  0  .292
 Troncoso p	0  0  0  0  .000
Martin 3b-c	4  0  0  0  .309
Loney 1b	4  0  0  0  .306
LaRoche 2b-3b	4  0  1  0  .273
Young rf-lf	2  0  0  0  .278
Berroa ss	3  0  0  0  .180
 DeWitt ph	1  0  0  0  .268
Ardoin c	2  0  1  0  .188
 Maza ph-2b	2  0  1  0  .236
Kershaw p	1  0  0  0  .000
 Falkenborg p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Sweeney ph	1  0  0  0  .102
 Wade p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Ethier ph-rf	1  0  0  0  .276
  Totals	31 0  5  0
  White Sox	30 2 7 2

  Error- Berroa (2). 2B- LaRoche
(1). LOB- Dodgers 8, White Sox 11.
SB- Kemp (15), Pierre 2 (32). DP-
3 LaRoche, Berroa and Loney; Ardoin,
Berroa and LaRoche; Falkenborg,
Ardoin and Loney.

  Dodgers 	in   h  r-er bb so  era
Kershaw (0-2)	4.0  6  2-2  4  3  4.36
Falkenborg	1.0  0  0-0  1  0  0.00
Wade        	2.0  1  0-0  1  2  2.48
Troncoso	2.0  0  0-0  1  3  5.23
  HBP- by Wade. T- 2:58. Att- 37,956.
Six-man Rotation Set
The Dodgers will go to a six-man starting rotation when Hiroki Kuroda comes off the disabled list as expected early next week, manager Joe Torre said. The experiment with a six-man rotation will include Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley, Kuroda, Clayton Kershaw, Chan Ho Park and Eric Stults. "I don't think it's going to hurt anybody" Torre said. The six-man rotation is only expected to last until the All-Star break so it won't even be around for two weeks. And if Brad Penny returns before the break, that will upset things even further, but not enough to have seven pitchers starting.

Tony Jackson of the Los Angeles Daily News pointed out the thing Torre knows for sure is that he is practically obliged to give Stults another outing. "Well yeah, do you want to get me fired and killed at the same time?" Torre joked when asked to confirm that Stults will get another start. "It will be pretty tough not to have him follow up what we saw Wednesday." In two starts he has a 0.60 ERA.

Furcal update
After suffering the effects of a sore lower back since the beginning of May, Rafael Furcal is finally scheduled to start a minor-league rehab assignment next week at Las Vegas.

"Furcal had a good workout Thursday," Torre said. "He ran zig-zags and stuff and took ground balls with coach Larry Bowa. He was in the weight room getting loosened up so everything seems like we're headed toward getting him ready."

Furcal said, "It's been a long time. I think I'm going to look like a little kid when I finally get back on the field."

Other Notes from *M*A*S*H* 4077 and Hawkeye Pierce: Kuroda came out of his bullpen session Wednesday with a little soreness, but it is an unrelated sore neck that will push his simulated game from today to Saturday. ...Nomar Garciaparra, out since April 26 with a strained left calf, may start a minor-league rehab assignment next week.?

Stars of the 70s Honored
The Dodgers will honor their star players from the 1970s tomorrow at a luncheon open to the public at Dodger Stadium. Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda is scheduled to attend, along with former Dodgers Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Bill Russell, Maury Wills, Rick Monday and others. The players will be honored before Saturday's game and sign autographs before Sunday's game, both against Anaheim. The Dodgers won National League pennants in 1974, 1977 and 1978, but lost the World Series each time -- to the Oakland Athletics in 1974 and New York Yankees in 1977 and 1978.

Dodgers sign Jerome Williams
Former San Francisco Giant right-hander Jerome Williams signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers. He was was 0-5 with a 7.20 ERA in six starts for the Nationals last year before being released. He spent 2 1/2 seasons with the Giants and 1 1/2 with the Cubs. He was assigned to Inland Empire. Despite GM Ned Colletti's penchance for signing former Giant players, there is no substance to the rumor he will sign outfielder Willie Mays next.

DeJesus Named to Futures Game Shortstop Ivan De Jesus, who is playing for Jacksonville, will be part of the World Team squad. The 21-yer-old is batting .294 with 11 doubles, a triple, two homers, 30 RBI and 51 runs scored. He has a .409 on-base percentage, having walked 50 times while striking out just 44 times. He will be managed by former Dodgers skipper Davey Johnson and his hitting coach will be former Dodgers OF Reggie Smith. The game will be played on July 13 at Yankee Stadium. Random Thought We wonder if the Dodgers have thought of playing Russ Martin at shortstop on days they want him to have a break. That would put Blake DeWitt and third and Andy LaRoche/Jeff Kent at second and hide Berroa's .180 batting average. Sure, Martin isn't Ozzie Smith with the glove but he's closer than Berroa is Honus Wagner with the bat.

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