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10/07/08 3:07 PM EST

Kuo throws painless simulated inning

Left-hander may be healthy enough to play in NLCS

PHILADELPHIA -- Dodgers reliever Hong-Chih Kuo moved another step closer to being on the active roster for the National League Championship Series with an impressive simulated inning Tuesday morning.

Pitching to four hitters at Dodger Stadium before the team flight left for the series with the Phillies that starts Thursday night, Kuo threw 19 pitches and experienced no discomfort in the triceps area that has limited him to one inning in the last month.

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"His command was much better than I anticipated," said pitching coach Rick Honeycutt. "He had no issues. He threw all of his pitches and had command of them. If everything is good tomorrow, we'd expect him to be available."

The way Kuo's arm feels Wednesday will be the final exam. He has often said that his current condition doesn't bother him when he throws, but it stiffens the following day.

"He said he has just a little feeling there, but nothing like before," said Honeycutt.

If he's available, the Dodgers plan to use Kuo for no more than one inning and probably not on consecutive days.

Kuo, who has had four operations on his elbow and who missed the NL Division Series with the Cubs, could be critical to the Dodgers' chances in this series. He was lights-out in three appearances against the Phillies this year, allowing one hit over five scoreless innings and notching his lone save of the season.

The Dodgers never used or needed a left-hander against the Cubs, but Kuo would be a key element in club tactics for this series because the Phillies have lethal left-handed hitters in their lineup like Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, and the Dodgers are likely to use the same three-man right-handed rotation of Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda they used against the Cubs in the Division Series sweep, and possibly lefty Clayton Kershaw in a Game 4.

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