Hiroki Kuroda tossed seven innings and received home runs from Dioner Navarro, Matt Kemp and rookie Justin Sellers on Sunday afternoon to lift the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 7-0 victory over the Houston Astros, thus completing a three-game sweep.
It came as little surprise that Kuroda excelled, considering he entered the matchup with a 1.91 ERA over six career starts versus Houston.
Kuroda (8-14) surrendered just five hits with one walk and six strikeouts over 106 pitches (69 for strikes) to lower his ERA to 2.88.
The 36-year-old native of Osaka, Japan threw an abundance of offspeed pitches, especially a solid split finger, as part of a repertoire that featured a limited number of fastballs on the afternoon.
Navarro furnished Kuroda with all the run support he needed with a two-run blast to right-center — his fifth homer of the season — off Astros starter Jordan Lyles in the second after Houston native James Loney led off the inning with a single to right.
Kemp, a strong candidate for the NL MVP Award, connected for his 28th homer — a solo shot to center — in the third to make it 3-0.
Los Angeles added four insurance runs in the sixth, beginning with third baseman Aaron Miles cracking a run-scoring single to center.
Sellers, who made his major league debut Friday after being promoted from Triple-A Albuquerque, stole the spotlight with his first career homer — a 380-foot, three-run blast to left — which was good enough to force Astros manager Brad Mills to pull Lyles.
The 20-year-old Lyles (1-7) allowed seven earned runs on seven hits with three walks and three strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings.
With the loss, the Astros have dropped a season-worst six in a row en route to posting a horrid 3-10 record in the month of August.
They wrapped up the three-game series at Dodger Stadium scoring just one run over a 28-inning span, with only a total of two extra-base hits.
Furthermore, the Astros went 20 innings — dating back to last Thursday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks — without scoring a run.
Houston’s relatively young offense ran into a tough stretch of pitching, especially standouts Clayton Kershaw and Kuroda, on the road trip, which goes hand in hand with the growing pains rookies Jose Altuve, J.D. Martinez and Jimmy Paredes will face.
The Astros will kick off a six-game homestand Monday night, beginning with a three-game stretch against the Chicago Cubs.
Henry Sosa (0-1), who was acquired by Houston on July 19 as part of the trade that sent infielder Jeff Keppinger to the San Francisco Giants, will get his second career big league start in Monday’s opener versus Cubs right-hander Rodrigo Lopez (3-3, 4.78 ERA).
First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT.
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