(Sports Network) - Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Dioner Navarro helped end his ballclub's slide with a big home run on Sunday and seems to have taken over the starting job with a bit of confidence.
Navarro is now the man behind the plate with Rod Barajas on the disabled list due to an ankle injury for a Dodgers team set to open a three-game interleague series tonight versus the Detroit Tigers at Chavez Ravine. He belted a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning in Sunday's 1-0 victory over the Houston Astros in the finale of a three-game series.
The backstop finished with two hits for the Dodgers, who avoided a sweep and ended a five-game skid. Los Angeles won for just the third time in its last 11 tries and halted a six-game home losing streak as well. It is 1-5 thus far on a season-long 12-game, 14-day homestand.
"I knew [Houston pitcher Wilton Lopez] didn't want to walk me, so I was looking for a pitch to hit," Navarro said of his homer. "[Dodgers starter] Hiroki [Kuroda] kept us in the game, he got ahead of hitters, and we were on the same page all game."
Kuroda did not record a decision despite seven shutout innings, but reliever Matt Guerrier posted the win with a scoreless eighth. Javy Guerra then closed the door in the ninth for his second save.
Los Angeles, which will also host the nearby Angels on this residency, will send young left-hander Clayton Kershaw to the mound Monday. Kershaw is 4-0 with a 3.13 earned run average in his last nine starts and has recorded three straight no-decisions. He last toed the rubber in Tuesday's 3-2 loss versus Cincinnati, allowing just one run in seven innings.
Kershaw was coming off back-to-back performances in which he permitted six runs in each and will put a strong home mark on the line tonight. The southpaw is 4-1 in eight Dodger Stadium starts and did not record a decision in his only appearance against the Tigers on June 15, 2008, when he tossed four shutout innings before a rain delay removed him from the game.
Meanwhile, the Tigers avoided a sweep in Colorado with Sunday's 9-1 drubbing of the Rockies at Coors Field, winning for the 10th time in their last 16 tries to remain one game behind Cleveland for the AL Central lead.
Detroit ace Justin Verlander stymied the Rockies with another complete-game effort in which he allowed one run and four hits with five strikeouts and no walks. The hard-throwing right-hander is now 9-3 on the season and has won his last seven decisions.
Brennan Boesch was 3-for-4 at the plate with home run and scored three times in the win. Miguel Cabrera also scored three times for Detroit and had a solo homer, while Alex Avila drove in two runs.
"We know we just have to come out and give a good effort," said Boesch about playing behind Verlander. "A couple runs is a big deal for us to score for [Verlander] because that's all it might take."
The Tigers hope they can say the same about former Dodger Brad Penny when he takes the mound this evening. Penny is 1-2 in his last five starts since a personal three-game winning streak and did not record a decision versus Cleveland in a 6-4 Detroit setback on Wednesday. He lasted only 3 1/3 innings and gave up four runs and eight hits.
Penny, a right-hander, is 5-5 with a 4.93 earned run average in 14 starts this season and 2-3 in six road outings. He has faced Los Angeles nine times -- all starts -- in his career and is 4-4 with a 4.44 ERA.
Los Angeles won two of three meetings with Detroit a year ago at Comerica Park, but the Tigers have won five of the last eight games in this series.