video thumbnail

LAD@SD: Kershaw lifted from start because of the flu

Clayton Kershaw is feeling better. That means the Pirates will have to face the reigning Cy Young Award winner on Tuesday.

Kershaw left his Opening Day start on Thursday after feeling the effects of the stomach flu.

He tossed a bullpen session Saturday and said he felt good and that he expects to start Tuesday's home opener against a Pirates team that has had a flair for the dramatic. Pittsburgh used walk-off hits to topple the Phillies on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

Now, the Pirates venture to Los Angeles with a 2-1 record, despite managing just seven runs in the three-game set with Philadelphia.

Pittsburgh's starting pitching has held up its end of the bargain. Erik Bedard, Jeff Karstens and James McDonald surrendered just four runs in 19 innings.

"Our pitching has done an unbelievable job in the first two games," catcher Rod Barajas said after Karstens limited Philadelphia to one run in six innings of Saturday's 2-1 victory. "We just haven't done much with the bats."

That changed Sunday, when the Pirates produced five runs -- four of which came in the final three frames.

The Bucs will have their hands full on Tuesday.

Kershaw won 21 games last year and posted a 2.28 ERA. Both statistics paced the National League.

After his bullpen session Saturday, Kershaw ran sprints in the outfield. That was enough to prove to manager Don Mattingly that his ace was ready for his next start, especially after seeing the southpaw laying on the floor in the tunnel between the dugout and clubhouse following his abbreviated outing on Thursday.

On Saturday, Kershaw was in an upright position.

"I saw him in the food room," Mattingly said. "He was talking, actually smiling."

Kershaw could have his entire team smiling if he is fully recovered and returns to his 2011 form.

Pirates: Catcher familiar with Kershaw's arsenal

• Barajas hopes his experience with catching Kershaw can pay off for his new team. He was on the receiving end of 21 of Kershaw's 33 starts last season, and the hurler posted a 1.98 ERA in those outings.

"I know the movement of all his pitches, so I hope that can help out a little," Barajas said. "But catching it and hitting it are two different things. He's a tough guy to hit off; I was back there when he was embarrassing hitters last year. Doesn't matter knowing him; he wouldn't be my No. 1 choice of a pitcher I'd want to bat against."

In four career starts against Pittsburgh, Kershaw is 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA.

• A pair of Pittsburgh starting pitchers could soon return to the club.

Charlie Morton is scheduled to make a rehab start Monday night and A.J. Burnett will make one on Wednesday. Morton is recovering from offseason hip surgery. Burnett had facial surgery on March 2 after suffering a fractured right-eye orbital bone during a bunting competition on Feb. 29.

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said Burnett could return "before the end of the month."

"We want to keep him in the warm weather and get him to 100 pitches," Huntington said.

Dodgers: Gordon making early impact

• Speedster Dee Gordon left his mark on Saturday's extra-innings victory against the Padres.

The shortstop went 3-for-4 with three stolen bases, two walks, two runs scored and the game-winning single in the 11th frame.

In his first tour of the big leagues last season, Gordon hit .304 with 24 steals in 56 games.

"I just want to get on and help as much as possible," Gordon said.

Worth noting

• The Dodgers won six of their eight meetings with the Pirates last season.

• Pirates first baseman Matt Hague did not start Sunday, one day after going 0-for-3 in his Major League debut. He did, however, pinch-hit in the eighth inning and came through with a game-tying single for his first career hit and RBI.

• Dodgers sluggers Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier each have eight RBIs through the club's first four games. Comments