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Hiroki Kuroda continues to step up for Dodgers in 9-3 victory

May 2, 2010 |  3:51 pm

The Dodgers may not have a true ace, but they currently have an unquestioned No.1 starter: Hiroki Kuroda.

Kuroda has easily been their best and most consistent starting pitcher this season. Granted, it’s not like he’s getting heavy competition, but he has been quietly effective in each of his five starts.

He was at it again Sunday in the Dodgers’ 9-3 victory over the Pirates. It wasn’t one of those dominating performances where hitters are getting jelly-legged and then headlines scream his glory.

Kuroda doesn’t pitch like that. He just goes out and effectively stymies opponents. He throws strikes. He’s efficient. He is what the Dodgers really need these days -- reliable.

He held the Pirates to one run on five hits in his eight innings; two were infield hits, and only one was for extra bases.

Kuroda walked one, struck out three, raised his record to 3-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.08.

He even survived Andrew McCutchen stepping on the back of his right foot while he was covering first in the third inning.

Kuroda is being paid like a top-tier pitcher ($15.4 million in the final season of his three-year contract), and he’s delivering.

The Dodgers entered the season with some form of question looming around each of their five starters. With Kuroda, it was if he could completely come back after getting hit in the head by a line drive last season and then suffering additional off-season neck pain.

Twenty-five games in, and Kuroda has answered. Answered like a No.1 starter.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda delivers a pitch against the Pirates on Sunday at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Christine Cotter / Associated Press