Nationals-Dodgers Preview

There’s no question the Los Angeles Dodgers could use a bat like

Adam Dunn’s in the middle of their lineup. Right now, they’d settle

for not having to pitch to the Washington Nationals slugger.

The NL home run leader hit two more as the Nationals took the

opener of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium, and he’ll look to

continue his success against Hiroki Kuroda on Saturday night as

Washington tries to further spoil Los Angeles’ critical

homestand.

The Nationals (49-61) didn’t deal Dunn prior to the July 31

trading deadline but placed him on waivers this week – a common

practice after Aug. 1 – leaving open the possibility of negotiating

a deal with the team that wins that claim.

Someone put in a claim, but that team is still not known. The

Dodgers (56-54) could certainly use him, considering they’ve

averaged 2.5 runs in 22 games since the All-Star break. Dunn hit a

pair of three-run homers in Friday’s 6-3 win, giving him six in six

games.

“That’s how home runs come for me – in bunches,” said Dunn, who

has 30 homers. “I mean, I’ll go three weeks and not hit one, and

then I’ll go a week where I hit five or six of them. That’s the

story of my life.”

While Dunn tied a career high with six RBIs, Los Angeles – 2-3

on its seven-game homestand – has scored six runs once since the

break.

Dunn is 6 for 14 with four homers and four walks against the

Dodgers this season.

“He’s got as much power as anyone in the game, so he can hit

pitches that aren’t necessarily hitter’s pitches and still drive

them out,” Dodgers catcher Brad Ausmus said. “You’d certainly like

to have him in the lineup. Either way, I wish somebody had claimed

him and he wasn’t playing for the Nationals tonight.”

Dunn hasn’t faced Kuroda (8-10, 3.70 ERA) in 2010, but he’s had

lots of success in eight plate appearances against the

right-hander, going 3 for 4 with a homer, two doubles and four

walks.

Kuroda is 1-5 with a 4.96 ERA in his last six starts, and his

most recent outing was particularly ineffective. He gave up five

runs and seven hits while lasting four innings in a 10-5 loss to NL

West-leading San Diego on Monday.

Kuroda has faced the Nationals once, allowing two unearned runs

and four hits over six innings in a 14-2 road win Sept. 22.

Livan Hernandez (8-7, 3.12) opposed Kuroda in that game, one of

his 31 starts against the Dodgers.

His past two have been ugly. Hernandez gave up eight runs and 11

hits over four innings in an 11-2 loss July 9, 2009, while pitching

for the Mets, then surrendered eight more over 3 2-3 innings

against Kuroda, a month after New York had released him.

Hernandez’s ERA is nearly 2 1/2 runs lower this season, though,

and his last two road starts have been particularly impressive. The

right-hander went the distance in a 7-1 win at Cincinnati on July

22, then made it through 7 1-3 innings, allowing a run and five

hits, in a 3-1 victory at Arizona on Monday.

Hernandez won’t have to face the Dodger that’s had the most

sustained success against him. Rafael Furcal, a .387 (29 for 75)

hitter with four homers against Hernandez, won’t return until

Tuesday at the earliest as he rests his sore lower back.