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NATIONAL LEAGUE


NATIONAL LEAGUE
Colorado Manager Clint Hurdle said the Rockies concede nothing to the Dodgers , but he's nonetheless impressed with the Dodgers' early-season prowess.

Being swept by the Dodgers in a three-game series last weekend at Dodger Stadium no doubt influenced his opinion, as did the Dodgers' .293 team batting average at the start of play Friday.

quot;When your team is hitting over .290 against right-handed and left-handed pitching, you're in a good place,quot; Hurdle said before the Dodgers opened another three-game series with the Rockies on Friday night, this time at Coors Field.

He took particular note of the first two batters in the Dodgers lineup, Rafael Furcal and Orlando Hudson.

quot;The ability to have two switch-hitters at the top of your lineup who can both run, and who have some barrel to their bat? Very unique, very unique,quot; Hurdle said.

quot;The Dodgers right now have a handful of guys who are hot,quot; he said. quot;You look for soft spots in the lineup and . . . quot; Hurdle's voice just tailed off.

Hurdle also said Manny Ramirez and the St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols are the quot;most feared [hitters] in the game for me right now in the National League. If there's a base open and opportunity to pass [walk] them, we're going to pass them.quot;

Regardless, Hurdle said, quot;I like the way we match upquot; with the Dodgers and quot;we'll see where it takes us.quot;

Fifth starter

Rookie pitcher James McDonald (0-1) makes his third major league start tonight against the Rockies with hopes of a better (or at least longer) outing than last Sunday, when he struggled against Colorado at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers ultimately won, 14-2, but McDonald, the fifth starter in the rotation, lasted only 4 1/3 innings after walking three and giving up four hits. He had no decision.

This time, he said, quot;My goal is to go deeper into the game, put guys away early if I get 0-2, 1-2 [counts]. . . . I want to go at least seven-plus innings.quot;

The 24-year-old from Long Beach said he was not concerned with feeling a need to validate his role as the fifth starter. quot;If I do what I need to do to help the team, everything else will fall in place,quot; he said.

Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said he wants to see McDonald quot;throwing strikes.quot;

quot;He struggled with his last outing, we got away with it, but this is a whole new experience for him,quot; Torre said. quot;It may take a little time for him to get comfortable.

quot;If he throws enough strikes, then he's not going to get those deep counts and run those pitch counts upquot; that can run him out of the game too early, Torre said.

Short hops

Torre gave catcher Russell Martin the night off Friday -- backup Brad Ausmus caught instead and batted eighth -- partly because Martin is one for 18 against Rockies starter Aaron Cook. . . . Opening-day winning pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, now dealing with a strained oblique, was quot;a little sorequot; after a bullpen session Thursday and was unclear on when he would throw again, Torre said. Kuroda has been on the disabled list since April 11. . . . The weather is forecast to turn much colder for tonight's game, with possible showers and a temperature in the high 40s in Denver. . . . Furcal is expected to be rested Sunday with Juan Castro possibly filling in at shortstop.

--

james.peltz@latimes.com


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 25, 2009

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