- Tony Jackson, ESPNLosAngeles.com
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PHOENIX -- The Dodgers are expected to officially name their Opening Day starter sometime Thursday morning. It isn't clear whether Hiroki Kuroda will draw the assignment for the second year in a row, but he certainly looked the part of a staff ace Wednesday night.
In a Cactus League start against the Oakland Athletics, Kuroda gave up only one hit over 5 1/3 shutout innings in what became a 3-3, nine-inning tie before a sellout crowd of 7,917 at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. He walked two, struck out two and got eight groundball outs.
"He was awesome, really good," Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said. "He had a great [bullpen] session this week and took it into the game. I think he was a little unhappy with his last outing, so it was good to see him go out and throw the ball well."
Kuroda had been torched for three runs and seven hits Friday night against San Diego, but he otherwise has pitched well this spring, posting a 2.51 ERA in four starts.
There has been widespread speculation all spring that left-hander Clayton Kershaw will get the Opening Day nod. But Honeycutt said each starting pitcher will be given an extra day of rest before his next start, meaning Kuroda's final spring tuneup will come Tuesday against Colorado in Tucson. That would line him up for April 4, which is an off-day before the April 5 season opener at Pittsburgh.
Meanwhile, if Kershaw makes his next start Sunday -- six days after his most recent one Monday -- he will be perfectly aligned to pitch the second game of the season April 7 and the home opener April 12.
Lindblom struggles against A's
Josh Lindblom, one of the Dodgers' top pitching prospects and a player who has a shot at being in the majors sometime this season, struggled in a two-inning outing against the A's, coughing up a 3-1 lead. But he was allowed to stay in beyond his prescribed pitch limit and managed to pitch out of his own jam twice.
Lindblom threw a pair of wild pitches in the seventh, the second of which let in the first run before Adam Rosales' sacrifice fly tied the score. But Lindblom came back from that with back-to-back strikeouts of Cliff Pennington and Gabe Gross. Then, in the eighth, he gave up a single to Michael Taylor and walked Kurt Suzuki before sandwiching strikeouts of Eric Patterson and Travis Buck around a popup by Eric Chavez.
"I was happy getting out of it, yeah," Lindblom said. "Obviously, some of my pitches weren't there, and they're not always going to be there. Games like this make you better because you have to find a way to get through it and minimize the damage."
Lindblom had made only one previous Cactus League appearance, pitching two scoreless innings against San Diego on Saturday night, and he also had a three-inning scoreless stint in Taiwan. He is expected to begin the season as a starter at Triple-A Albuquerque.
Repko puts tie game on ice
Jason Repko made a diving catch of a sinking line drive in right field to preserve the tie, ending the game with runners on first and second. The catch robbed Taylor of a hit that probably would have driven in Rosales from second and given the A's the victory.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.