Dodgers Problem? Ubaldo Jimenez

In the battle of wonderkinders, 24-year-old Ubaldo Jimenez took round one hands down over 20-year-old Clayton Kershaw. Jiminez retired 15 of the first 16 he faced, finishing with a four-hitter and missing a shutout by a long Matt Kemp home run in the ninth. Kershaw was banged around for 10 hits and five runs in the 10-1 loss.

Jimenez didn't allow a runner past first base until Nomar Garciaparra led off the eighth with a double to left, and he didn't give up a run until Kemp led off the ninth with his 11th homer that was measured at 445 feet.

Kershaw (0-3), who was recalled from Jacksonville before the game, was around for only three-plus innings. "They were just hitting," Kershaw said. "You'd almost rather it be a command problem than get hit like that."

But manager Joe Torre saw it differently. "We just threw too many balls in the middle of the plate. It's not easy to pitch in this ballpark, but Jimenez had no problem tonight."

It's curious that since the Dodgers avoided sending Kershaw to Las Vegas because the altitude made it hard for a young pitcher to adjust, they still used him in Colorado in his first start since being recalled. Eric Stults, had a better game the night before but was sent back to Las Vegas.

Kershaw was tagged for a home run in the first and saved from further damage by a diving catch in center field by Andruw Jones. Jeff Kent and Nomar Garciaparra came up with ballet-smooth double play with runners at first and third in the second but four more runs pattered across the plate in the fourth and Kershaw was given the rest of the night off.

Jason Johnson, who was recalled as a starter but switched to the bullpen, took over with the bases loaded and got a force at the plate and a double play to end the inning.

Johnson allowed only one run in four innings and said after the game he could have gone longer if they had wanted him to.

Ramon Troncoso was roughed up for the final four runs.

But in the end, it was Jiminez who made the difference, plus a red-hot Colorado offense who followed a 20-hit night in the opening game of the series by whacking 18 against Kershaw, Johnson and Troncoso.

"We hit balls hard sometimes, but we couldn't get anything going," said third baseman Andy LaRoche, who for the second night in a row singled and drew a walk. "Obviously, when a pitcher is throwing 96-100, it's going to be a tough day. It's just one of those things that happen sometimes, and you can't take anything away from him. He did a great job.

"I would rather have a loss like that than know that we beat ourselves or made errors or didn't get the job done with runners in scoring position."

The Dodgers, who still haven't seen the .500 mark since May 30, had a chance to get there for the third time this month but have lost all three. They fall to 49-51 and one game behind the Snakes who beat Chicago for the second time in a row.

The Dodgers start their third rookie of the series when RHP Hiroki Kuroda (5-6, 3.79 ERA) gets the ball in an afternoon game today at Coors Field where (shudder) the ball seems to carry even better in the daytime.

Kuroda took a 1.19 ERA in his three previous starts into his last game against Arizona and was KO'ed in less than two innings. He's 2-7 on the road.

The Dodgers will face LHP Glendon Rusch (3-3, 5.79 ERA), who spent most of the season pitching in Triple-A. In his last start he recorded his second consecutive win, giving up two runs on six hits in 5.2 innings against the Pirates. Rusch has made 10 starts against the Dodgers in his career and is 0-5 with a 14.21 ERA.

 Score by innings
Los Angeles	000 000 001- 1	
Colorado	014 010 04x-10

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Kemp rf        	3  1  1  1  .287
Ethier lf	4  0  0  0  .278
Martin c	3  0  1  0  .299
 DeWitt ph	1  0  0  0  .254
Kent 2b        	4  0  0  0  .253
Loney 1b	3  0  0  0  .297
Garciaparra ss	3  0  1  0  .289
Jones cf	3  0  0  0  .163
 LaRoche 3b	2  0  1  0  .212
Kershaw p	1  0  0  0  .000
 Johnson p	1  0  0  0  .000
 Young ph	1  0  0  0  .212
 Troncoso p	0  0  0  0  .000
  Totals	29  1  4  1
  Colorado	39 10 18 10

 Error- Kemp (3), Kent (8). 2b hit- Garciaparra
(11). HR- Kemp (11). RBI- Kemp (55). LOB- Los
Angeles 3, Colorado 11. DP- Kent, Garciaparra
and Loney; Garciaparra and Loney; Garciaparra,
Kent and Loney.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Kershaw (0-3)	3.0 10  5-5  3  2  5.18
Johnson	        4.0  2  1-1  2  2  2.57
Troncoso	1.0  6  4-4  0  2  6.11
 PB- Martin (4). T- 2:34. Att- 41,567.
Pierre May Replace Jones
Manager Joe Torre, who has patently waited for the real (pre-2007) Andruw Jones to make his appearance, seems in the verge of going a different direction -- almost.

Over his 58 games, Jones has hit .163 and posted an even worse .265 on-base percentage. Pablo Ozuna, Esteban Loaiza, Hong-Chih Kuo, Terry Tiffee, Luis Maza, Danny Ordoin, Angel Berroa, Gary Bennett and Brad Penny all have better statistics.

Torre told the writers that if Pierre's rehab goes well, he will rejoin the big club either Saturday or Sunday but didn't go so far as saying he would replace Jones.

"It's still too early for me to sit Jones. Both Donnie Mattingly and Jeff Pentland are here working on specific things with him. It's one thing to practice, but it's a second thing to go out there and play games and try to put that into practice. I don't think he has had enough time for that yet."

He then said he would not rule out the possibility that Andruw could find himself sitting if this keeps up much longer. "We have to look at the best options every day to win," he said.

"I have seen Andre Ethier and Matty Kemp make great strides, Andre with the consistency of his at-bats and Matt seems to be getting a better feel for it right now' Torre said. "You reserve the right to change your mind."

But with the All-Star break in the past, the Trade Deadline approaching and the Dodgers vying for the division lead, Torre knows there's little time to waste.

Scouts watching the Dodgers are not only critical of Jones' bat, but also surprised by his lack of foot speed running to first base and his defensive decline in center field.

"They're taking extra bases on him," one scout said. "I've never seen that before."

And Ken Rosenthal reports that an evaluator, noting that the Dodgers have recently played Jones, shortstop Nomar Garciaparra and second baseman Jeff Kent in their up-the-middle positions, said that Jones was the worst defender of the three.

No one could say Torre hasn't given the once-talented $18 million outfielder about all the rope the club can afford. Over 178 times at bat, Jones has 29 hits, 11 runs batted in and has fanned 65 times. It's tough to contend with a black hole like that in your lineup.

Ardoin Has the Secret
Dodgers backup catcher Danny Ardoin, having been a catcher for the Rockies for two seasons, said there is a mental approach to pitching in Coors Field that most visiting pitchers just don't know about he told Ken Gurnick of

"You need to be more aggressive early in the count," said Ardoin, who will catch Hiroki Kuroda in today's get-away series finale, with Russell Martin starting at third base.

"In general, the pitcher needs a different approach. You attack the hitter in the zone early in the count and make them put the ball in play.

"One run is not a big deal in this park, but that's not the way pitchers are generally taught," Ardoin said. "Here, you give up four runs in six innings, that's not a bad start here, even if it isn't what people call a 'quality start.' A lot of times, you take the aggressive approach and you wind up like Jimenez.

"Having played here and you can't pitch around guys. You can't afford to put any extra guys on base, because you get traffic on the bases and it can snowball quick. Other parks, you can pitch around hitters. Not here."

Dodgers Blue Notes-- LHP Eric Stults was optioned to Las Vegas to make room for Kershaw on the roster. ...Juan Pierre will begin a Minor League rehab assignment at Las Vegas on Wednesday and could be activated by the weekend. ...Brad Penny is expected to also start a Minor League rehab assignment at Las Vegas this weekend ... The Dodgers (49-51) played their 100th game of the season. Last year, the club was 56-44 after 100 contests, but went 26-36 the rest of the way to miss the playoffs. In 2006, Los Angeles was 47-53 at this point and then went 41-21 down the stretch, claiming the NL Wild Card. ...Jason Schmidt had an injection on his right shoulder to try to relieve discomfort. Schmidt had surgery to remove scar tissue from the bursa sac, repair a frayed biceps tendon and repair a torn labrum on June 20, 2007. ...The San Francisco Chronicle reports the Dodgers, looking for a replacement for closer Takashi Saito, have sent a scout to watch the Athletics series vs. Tampa Bay in order to get a better look at Oakland's closer Huston Street. ...Shortstop Nomar Garciaparra will once again host Carne Asada Sunday on Aug. 3 at the Loge Terrace following the game against Arizona.  

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