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Kuroda, Dodgers Look To Limit Dunn, Nationals

(Sports Network) - If the Los Angeles Dodgers have any plans on making a run at the playoffs, they must stop Washington Nationals slugger Adam Dunn. The two powers will collide once again tonight in the second installment of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium.

Dunn cracked a pair of three-run homers off of Los Angeles young starter Clayton Kershaw in Friday's 6-3 win and leads the National League with 30 blasts this season. Toronto's Jose Bautista is tops in the majors with 33. Dunn has hit at least 30 home runs in seven straight seasons, while it could have been a different story for Kershaw, who struck out nine batters in six innings and was victimized by two of his seven hits allowed.

"Clayton didn't look like he had a good rhythm early, after the second homer he settled down. We have to hit with more consistency. We fall behind and it's an uphill battle," said Dodgers manager Joe Torre.

Andre Ethier hit a two-run homer and Casey Blake drove in the other run for the Dodgers, who have lost two straight and eight of their last 10 games to fall seven games off the wild card lead and remain eight games off the pace in the National League West Division.

Hiroki Kuroda hopes to stop a dreary streak of his own when he takes the mound tonight for the Dodgers. Kuroda has lost two straight starts and is 1-5 with a 4.96 earned run average over his previous six outings.

Kuroda was on the losing end of a 10-5 decision versus San Diego on Monday, as he permitted five runs -- four earned -- and seven hits in four innings. The loss dropped him to 8-10 in 21 starts this season and raised his earned run average to 3.70. Kuroda is 4-4 in 11 home starts in 2010 and will face Washington for the second time in his season.

The Japanese righty won in DC on September 22, 2009, when he gave up two unearned runs in six innings of a 14-2 demolition of the Nationals.

Dunn, meanwhile, has shaken off trade rumors to hit .294 with 13 home runs and 30 RBI since July 1. He was placed on waivers this week and apparently an unknown team put a claim in on the big man. Dunn's efforts made a winner out of John Lannan, as he lasted six innings and allowed three runs -- two earned -- and five hits.

"Adam is a special guy. To hit it out like that is a God-given talent. He's a smart hitter," Nats skipper Jim Riggleman said.

Tyler Clippard, Sean Burnett and Drew Storen went the rest of the way to preserve the win, with Storen notching his first save in the process for the Nationals, who have alternated wins and losses over their last seven games.

Taking the hill for the Nationals tonight will be veteran Livan Hernandez, who has won two of his last three starts. Hernandez started the run with a complete-game effort at Cincinnati on July 22, but lost to Atlanta six days later.

Hernandez then toed the rubber in Monday's 3-1 win at Arizona and held the lowly D'Backs to a run and five hits through 7 1/3 innings. He pushed his road mark to 4-4 in 10 starts and is 8-7 overall in 22 trips to the hill.

The right-hander has plenty of experience versus tonight's opponent, as he is 9-15 with a 4.86 ERA in 31 career starts against the Dodgers.

The Nationals took two of three at home over the Dodgers back on April 23-25 and have won eight of the last 12 meetings overall.