Mixed night for Dodgers on the bump

Mixed night for Dodgers on the bump

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Hong-Chih Kuo pitched with no pain and Hiroki Kuroda narrowly escaped another line drive at his head Friday night, but it was James McDonald who had the pained look after the Dodgers' 9-4 loss to the Padres.

McDonald, having pitched his way out of the competition for the final spot in the rotation, might have pitched himself off the team by allowing six runs on six hits with two walks in 1 1/3 innings. McDonald sat in front of his locker with head in hands after the game.

"James had a tough night," said manager Joe Torre. "He had good stuff and got ahead 0-2, then it was 3-2, and all of a sudden bad things happened. He's just got to be more economical."

Kuo was a bright spot, pitching in his first game since being scratched from last Sunday's start in Taiwan with a sore elbow. He retired the top of the Padres' order -- Tony Gwynn Jr., David Eckstein and Adrian Gonzalez -- on ground balls.

"I'm fine," Kuo said.

Another bright spot was Chris Withrow, who had a 1-2-3 inning and could be the next young Minor Leaguer promoted to Major League camp, as were Clayton Kershaw and Josh Lindblom the past two springs. Withrow, a starter and former first-round Draft pick, struck out the side in his only other inning last week.

Kuroda got knocked around, allowing three runs on seven hits in four innings, including a massive home run by Will Venable that hit the top of the 40-foot batter's eye in center field, 410 feet away.

But he also had another scare when Gwynn ripped a line drive back through the middle. Kuroda -- who was seriously injured by a Rusty Ryal liner last August in Arizona that drilled him on the head -- got his glove up in time to deflect the ball, and shortstop Rafael Furcal fielded it and threw out Gwynn.

"I don't know why these balls are coming back at my face," said Kuroda. "This time, I had time to react. Thank God I wasn't hit. It is Arizona again. Another line drive hits me in the head and that's the end of my career."

Kuroda said he felt fine physically but wasn't comfortable pitching-wise, and he went down to the bullpen to throw another dozen pitches after being removed.

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