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Kuroda out of final regular-season start

Kuroda out of final regular-season start

SAN DIEGO -- Dodgers manager Joe Torre confirmed Wednesday that Clayton Kershaw will start Saturday's game against Colorado instead of Hiroki Kuroda, who will be skipped because of a stiff neck.

Torre said Kuroda felt the stiffness while running in the outfield at PETCO Park on Tuesday, and it was not a factor Monday, when Kuroda was battered for seven runs [three earned] on eight hits in four innings in Pittsburgh.

"It's a little better today, but there's no rush," said Torre. "We have to make sure it goes away. We'll know more by the weekend. We may have to create a simulated game for him. He'll have to throw a bullpen [session] before he does anything."

This is the third injury to keep Kuroda off the mound. He missed two months with a strained oblique muscle and three weeks after taking a line drive off his head.

Although Torre had not previously announced this weekend's probables beyond Randy Wolf for Friday night, he said Kuroda would have pitched Saturday, meaning Kuroda would have been moved ahead of Kershaw, who had been following Wolf.

That indicates Torre plans to have Wolf and Kuroda start Games 1 and 2 of the playoffs. His other two starters will come from a group of Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla.

Torre said there isn't the same concern over Hong-Chih Kuo's recent wildness as there was earlier this year, when he developed some control problems and missed almost two months.

"He gets a little amped up and yanks his pitches -- even the fastball," said Torre. "But down there [the bullpen], he's fine. I checked with Kenny [Howell, bullpen coach]. He just needs to reel in his command."

When Kuo developed extreme wildness earlier this year, it surfaced while warming up in the bullpen for a game in early May. Torre gave no indication that Kuo wouldn't make the postseason roster, but said Scott Elbert's recent effectiveness has put him in contention for an additional slot, most likely for a series against the left-handed hitters of Philadelphia.

In other injury updates, Torre said Casey Blake is responding to a platelet injection in his strained left hamstring, while Ronnie Belliard is making progress from a strained groin, and they might be available for limited action by Friday.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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