The Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies played the first game of a three-game series on Friday night, at Dodger Stadium. It was more of a modified exhibition game with three regular season games left on the schedule, and the NL West clinched by Los Angeles two days prior.
Thanks to an offensive outburst in what became a six-run sixth inning, the Dodgers overcame an early deficit to beat the Rockies 7-4.
Roberto Hernandez started the game for Los Angeles, who is 2-3 with a 4.74 ERA in eight starts as a Dodger. The Dodgers provided him with an early 1-0 lead in the first inning, despite not having regulars Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez and AJ Ellis in the lineup. Dee Gordon’s leadoff double got things started, and then Yasiel Puig did his part by driving him in with an RBI single.
The Dodgers 1-0 lead held up for two solid innings before Hernandez gave it up. The third inning began with a double from Rockies starter, Jordan Lyles. He scored when Gordon coughed up a ground ball that should’ve been a double play for the Dodgers, allowing the Rockies to tie the game 1-1. It was Dodgers 106 error of the season (fifth-worst in baseball). The next batter, Justin Morneau, launched a two-run homer into the Pavilion in left field for his fifth career homer off Hernandez, and gave Colorado a 3-1 lead.
Hernandez’s night ended in the middle of the sixth inning, as he exited with the bases loaded and two outs. Scott Elbert entered the game and struck out Charlie Blackmon to end the inning. Hernandez finished with a line of 5.2 innings, three runs on six hits, with three strikeouts and four walks.
“I thought he was better tonight, it’s the best he’s been in a while,” manager, Don Mattingly said.
In the bottom half of the sixth inning the Dodgers offense exploded for six runs, and did so without most of their regulars. Adrian Gonzalez and Puig were replaced defensively in the top of the inning. Gonzalez’s replacement, Scott Van Slyke, drove in the first run of the inning with a single to make it a 3-2 game. Justin Turner followed with a two-run single to give the Dodgers a 4-3 lead. He’s now batting .419 with runners in scoring position this season.
“In that situation, with less than two outs and a guy on third with the infield back, you’re just trying to stay in the middle of the field,” Turner said. “Lucky enough, it got enough up the middle and Scott was able to score.”
Juan Uribe added a two-run single of his own, and before it was over with, Darwin Barney hit a sac-fly in his second at bat of the inning to make it 7-3 Dodgers. Los Angeles entered the game hitting .292 as a team in the month of September.
The combination of Paco Rodriguez, Brandon League, Pedro Baez, J.P. Howell and Brian Wilson made up the Dodgers bullpen on this night. Rodriguez faced just two batters and allowed two hits before his night was over. League didn’t allow any runs, in large part because Carl Crawford threw a runner out at the plate with his best Puig impersonation. Howell gave up a solo home run in the ninth inning before Wilson entered the game to record the final out.
By the end of the game, the Dodgers only had four players that started the game still playing; Andre Ethier, Drew Butera, Gordon and Crawford. The Dodgers were giving everyone a chance to play, similar to a game played at Camelback Ranch in March.
“That’s the one thing you want your guys to do, go out there and play hard,” Mattingly said. “I think they understand that there’s going to be four days off in between, so they’re out just playing.”
The Dodgers will have four days off between their final game on Sunday and their first round series against either the Pittsburgh Pirates or the St. Louis Cardinals next Friday.
W: Scott Elbert (1-0, 2.25)
L: Jordan Lyles (7-4, 4.33)
- Scott Van Slyke’s single in the sixth inning was his 100th career hit.
- Dee Gordon’s three-hit game was his 19th of the season, leading the NL in that category.
- Yasiel Puig is hitting .358 since Sept. 13 with seven multi-hit games