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07/03/08 1:44 AM ET

Hernandez hit hard in loss to Dodgers

Right-hander lasts just five innings; offense stifled by Kuroda

HOUSTON -- Runelvys Hernandez's second start for the Astros proved a struggle, as the right-hander gave up six hits in five innings in a 4-1 loss to the Dodgers.

The runs went up quick for Los Angeles and were hard to come by for Houston, other than Carlos Lee's ninth-inning solo shot. The Dodgers scored on RBI doubles to left field by former Astro Jeff Kent in the first and third innings. Blake DeWitt singled and reached third on a throwing error by catcher J.R. Towles, who was trying to catch him stealing second, and scored on a suicide squeeze by Luis Maza.

They scored run No. 4 on a leadoff home run by Andre Ethier in the fifth.

"I missed a couple locations with my two-seamer," Hernandez said. "A couple times it came back, and it ran too much in the middle of the plate. I missed a spot two times, and that was the key to the game."

Hernandez said he started feeling stronger late in his outing and was still throwing 94- and 95-mph pitches when he was taken out.

He said he is frustrated that he can feel so good and still get beat.

"I did think Elvis [Runelvys] competed," said Astros manager Cecil Cooper. "He just had a few command issues and he was missing his spots. But we had our chances."

Hiroki Kuroda had the Astros' number from the start, shutting them out on five hits in seven innings.

Cooper said Kuroda had more velocity than the last time Houston faced him in Los Angeles, where he went 6 1/3 innings.

"He [was tough] when we faced him in L.A., and he did it again today," Astros infielder Geoff Blum said. "He doesn't have a set tendency. He's cutting the ball at 94 mph then throwing a sinker at 92 mph. I don't know if he knew what he was doing with it, but he was doing a great job of it."

The Astros' only scoring shot of the night against the righty was in the fifth, when Towles reached third on a double by pinch-hitter Darin Erstad. But Michael Bourn grounded out to first to end the chance.

David Newhan was the only player who did much damage against Kuroda. He got two hits to right field but was picked off at second in the fifth inning.

"I was able to get a couple pitches and put them into play," Newhan said. "The first one wasn't anything special. I was just trying to get out there as much as I can."

Newhan said Kuroda was working fast and pounding the strike zone, keeping Houston's offense off balance all night.

Lance Berkman's seven-game hitting streak was snapped in the defeat.

Krysten Oliphant is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.