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Kuo replaces Loaiza in rotation

Kuo replaces Loaiza in rotation

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LOS ANGELES -- Left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo will bump Esteban Loaiza from his scheduled start Tuesday night against the Pirates, according to manager Joe Torre.

Loaiza allowed four runs in the first inning of his first start Tuesday night in Arizona, but his velocity increased in the second inning and he retired 10 consecutive batters. The next day, Torre said Loaiza would remain in the rotation.

But after Friday night's game, Torre reversed course. Kuo has eight strikeouts in 6 2/3 scoreless innings over two appearances, including an unexpected three-inning start nine days ago when Torre scratched scheduled starter Chad Billingsley because of an approaching storm.

Kuo, who has had two Tommy John reconstructions among his four elbow operations, was the likely fifth starter a year ago until suffering a Spring Training shoulder injury.

Loaiza beat out Chan Ho Park for the fifth starter job this Spring Training, in large part because he had a guaranteed $6.5 million salary. Loaiza is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA. Park has emerged as a long reliever, having appeared in three of the seven games, allowing one run over four innings.

The goal of management is to bide time with Loaiza, Park and Kuo taking starts for another month or so while preserving the arm of 20-year-old phenom Clayton Kershaw, who has never pitched more than 122 innings in a professional season.

Had Kershaw been asked to pitch every five days in the Major Leagues from the start of the season, it would have been unrealistic to expect him to have much left in the critical weeks of a pennant race without risking injury.

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

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