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Maeda holds it together in preseason defeat

Kyodo

Right-hander Kenta Maeda struggled with his control on Sunday, but was able to battle over 5⅓ innings in his fifth preseason start since joining the Los Angeles Dodgers in the offseason.

The former Hiroshima Carp ace allowed three runs, two earned, on four hits and a walk, while striking out five in a 7-6 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Maeda retired the first six batters he faced before a run scored in the third on two errors, a sacrifice and a single. He left the game after back-to-back, one-out singles in the sixth.

“My control was not that good,” he told Japanese media. “But I did well to hold things together on a day like this.”

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts expressed satisfaction with the progress of his new pitcher, who is expected to make his regular-season debut on April 6 in San Diego against the Padres — who are managed by former Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighter Andy Green.

“He (Maeda) is as good, if not better than advertised,” Roberts said. “His transition to this point has been seamless.”

Against the Reds, Maeda was forced to transition to his fastball as an out pitch when his changeup didn’t get the job done early on.

In the first, he got No. 2 hitter Jake Cave to fly out on a fastball, and then set up Joey Votto with a slider away before busting him inside with a fastball that the 2010 National League MVP looked at for strike three.

“I thought it was going to be a long day without my changeup, but I was able to get outs with my other pitches,” said Maeda, who pitched out of his third-inning jam when Cave struck out looking at a backdoor slider and Votto flied out on another slider.

Over the winter, a scout with an NL team said Maeda’s strength was his ability to compete without his best stuff — as he did on Sunday.

“I thought it was a good job of pitching and, I think, good practice,” Maeda said.