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04/28/10 7:36 PM ET

Kershaw out to snap Dodgers' skid vs. Bucs

As the Pirates head west to take on the Dodgers in a four-game series starting on Thursday, both teams will be trying to steady the ship.

The Dodgers have now suffered four losses in a row, including a three-game sweep at the hands of the surging Mets. They also have dealt with public criticism from general manager Ned Coletti.

"There's plenty of blame to go around when you don't play well, that's no secret," Los Angeles manager Joe Torre said before Wednesday's game. "We need to improve in a lot of areas, and that's my responsibility. We have to find a way to make things happen."

Young hurler Clayton Kershaw (1-0, 3.13 ERA) is tasked with ending the team's skid. While the left-hander has been a tad erratic this season, he has turned in back-to-back quality starts. In his most recent start against the Nationals, 11 baserunners reached, but Kershaw wiggled off the hook, only allowing two runs to score.

"It doesn't surprise me," Torre said of Kershaw's magic. "He's young, but he's certainly growing. It was something special."

The Pirates, on the other hand, are dealing with uncertainties of their own -- in their starting rotation. Manager John Russell continues to have to find fill-in options for his beleaguered staff. Russell has already used eight different starters this season and will require another spot start to be made on Thursday.

Left-hander Brian Burres, who was just called up on Sunday from Triple-A Indianapolis, after Chris Jakubauskas went on the disabled list, filled in earlier this season, and the Bucs will call on him to do so again Thursday.

"Hopefully one of these days, all these options will work their way out," Russell said of team's rotation flux. "I've never seen anything like it to where you have to continue to get another starter, things don't go right, you get another, somebody goes down. I've never seen much like this."

It isn't just the rotation where the Pirates are looking for consistency; the Bucs have yet to find success in the bullpen on an extended basis this season.

"We've weathered the storm," Russell said. "We haven't won the games we need to, and we're in a tough stretch now, but some guys have really picked us up."

Pirates: Doumit going deep
Not known for being a home run hitter, Ryan Doumit found his power stroke against Trevor Hoffman this week. Doumit hit back-to-back long balls to lift the Pirates against the Brewers. Doumit has also recorded multihit efforts in two of his last three games. He had just 10 homers all of last season. With the hit, Doumit now has an eight-game hiting streak. Since it began on April 21, Doumit's hitting .423 (11-for-26) over his last 11 games.

Dodgers: Offense scuffling
Among the issues that have plagued the Dodgers during their recent losing streak is their inability to score with runners in scoring position. It's not as if they haven't had their baserunners. In the three-game series against the Mets alone, Los Angeles tallied 17 hits, but left 23 runners on base. With runners in scoring position, the Dodgers went 3-for-24 (.125).

Worth noting
Kershaw has never beaten the Pirates, going 0-0 with a 3.95 ERA in three starts in his career.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.