for this game

Kuroda hopes to add to Phils' offensive woes

Jun 8, 2011 - 2:40 PM (Sports Network) - A sputtering offense has put the Philadelphia Phillies in one of their longest ruts of the season. Judging by the team's history against Los Angeles Dodgers hurler Hiroki Kuroda, a needed breakout may be tough to come by.

Kuroda brings his outstanding track record of success versus Philadelphia into tonight's finale of a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park, where the slumping Phillies counter with the steady Cole Hamels in an anticipated pitcher's duel.

Though the Phillies still own a three-game advantage over second-place Atlanta in the National League East, the defending division champions enter tonight's contest having lost five of their last seven. A lack of scoring has been the main culprit, as the club has managed just 19 runs over that stretch and hasn't homered in six consecutive games.

Philadelphia left eight men on base and went 2-of-10 with runners in scoring position in last night's 6-2 defeat to the Dodgers.

"We weren't able to capitalize on the opportunities that we had," said Phillies second baseman Chase Utley. "Some of the credit has to go to their [pitcher], but we had some pitches to hit and we didn't."

Dodgers rookie Rubby De La Rosa walked five batters in five innings during his first major league start, but managed to hold the Phillies to one run in helping Los Angeles win for the third time in its last four games.

Roy Oswalt wasn't as effective for Philadelphia, as the veteran righty was tagged for four runs and eight hits before exiting after six innings.

Matt Kemp went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer to pace Los Angeles offensively, while young shortstop Dee Gordon collected three hits and scored a run in his first start in the big leagues.

"It was nice for him to get out of the gate and get a couple of hits," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said about Gordon, the son of one-time Phillies reliever Tom Gordon. "He is going to be an exciting player to watch. I'm sure we're going to have growing pains with him, but he's fun to watch."

Philadelphia, which did not have shortstop and leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins (bruised right knee) in the starting lineup for a third straight day on Tuesday, will now try to make some progress against Kuroda, a pitcher who owns a 2-0 record and a sensational 0.68 earned run average in four career bouts with the Phillies. In his lone previous visit to Citizens Bank Park, the 36- year-old fired six innings of one-run ball in a no-decision during the 2008 season.

Kuroda does enter this evening's tilt saddled with a three-start losing streak, however, and opposing hitters have batted .352 off the Japanese right- hander during that rough stretch. He did show signs of breaking out of his funk earlier in this road trip, though, as he held Cincinnati to two runs over six innings in spite of being left on the wrong end of a 2-1 decision on Friday.

While Kuroda has struggled as of late, his mound opponent tonight has one of the NL's most consistent hurlers through the season's first two months. Hamels has compiled a 7-2 record along with a 2.83 earned run average over his initial 12 starts of 2011, and he's lasted at least seven innings while yielding three or less runs in all but three of those outings.

The standout lefty turned in another strong performance this past Friday in Pittsburgh, although it didn't result in a win. He limited the Pirates to one run and only a single hit over eight innings of work, but was removed with the contest still tied.

Hamels had ripped off three consecutive winning starts prior to that no- decision, including a seven-inning stint against the Mets on May 28 in which he fanned a season-high 10 batters while permitting just two runs.

The California native has also had success when facing the Dodgers in the past, with Hamels producing a 2-0 record and a 1.50 ERA over his four previous encounters with Los Angeles.

Philadelphia won four of its six meetings with the Dodgers last season, including two of the three tests held at Citizens Bank Park.