Slugfest goes Dodgers way in end
Club scores season-high 16 runs, holds off late Rockies rally
DENVER -- Clayton Kershaw, promoted in time to make his Coors Field debut Tuesday night, had best not check the pitching lines of Monday night's 16-10 Dodgers win over the Rockies.
The Dodgers led by 11 runs at one point, yet had closer Jonathan Broxton heating up in the ninth inning as their lead appeared to be evaporating. They somehow scored a season-high 16 runs and were outhit. Dodgers pitchers allowed runs in each of the last seven innings.
"Arena baseball," said manager Joe Torre, after watching his club break out for eight first-inning runs off Colorado starter Kip Wells, who made 40 pitches and retired one batter, allowing doubles to Matt Kemp on his first pitch of the game, and his last.
The Dodgers offense that humiliated Arizona closer Brandon Lyon in a five-run ninth inning Sunday pummeled Wells and had Torre feeling pretty good, until the Rockies outscored the Dodgers, 6-0, over the final four innings and had two runners in scoring position when Hong-Chih Kuo finally got the final out.
"I'm glad after the way we played over the weekend that we didn't have a letdown," Torre said. "But an eight-run lead in this ballpark is certainly not safe and we didn't help matters when they scored in seven straight innings. I'm glad we had a cushion."
James Loney, as usual, led the Dodgers with five RBIs. He, Russell Martin and Jeff Kent had three hits each; Martin and Kent scored three runs each. Nine Dodgers had base hits, nine scored runs, eight drove in runs. They went 9-for-21 with runners in scoring position. They had seven extra-base hits, but in typical Dodgers fashion, no home runs.
With all of that, it should have been a laugher, but there was nothing funny about the Dodgers pitching. For the fourth consecutive game out of the All-Star break, the Dodgers starter threw in a clunker. This time it was Eric Stults, making his first start in 10 days. He had an 11-0 lead with one out in the third inning and couldn't finish the fourth or qualify for a win.
Torre suggested that Stults was not aggressive enough.
"He looked like he was trying to protect a lead instead of pitching with one," said Torre. "He had good stuff. Sometimes you let the score affect what you do."
Stults respectfully disagreed. Both clubs seemed to be annoyed with veteran home plate umpire Jerry Crawford's tight strike zone. Stults stopped short of using that or his nine days' rest as excuses.
"My goal early on was to get three outs and let us keep hitting, because our guys were seeing the ball," said Stults. "Having a big lead shouldn't affect you. I don't know if I'm disappointed at not getting the win as much as frustrated. We got the W. In the second half, every win is huge."
Torre said Stults is still in the rotation, although a roster move will be needed Tuesday to make room for Kershaw. Torre has hinted that general manager Ned Colletti could be close to a deal, but there's also the chance that a young pitcher with options, like Stults or Ramon Troncoso, could be sent down. Stults wouldn't be available for several days after throwing 74 pitches.
"I can't control that," said Stults, whose ERA is still a fine 3.18. "Whatever they decide to do is up to them. If something changes or happens, I'll take it in stride. If I do get the ball again, I'll try to be prepared. A guy like me, I've got to show them I can pitch. I can't worry whether I'll lose my job or spot. That doesn't come into play."
That decision also could be impacted by the fact that three relievers -- Monday night's winner Brian Falkenborg, Joe Beimel and Cory Wade -- have pitched in three of the past four games. That has been necessitated by four starters that have averaged four innings and an 8.10 ERA since the All-Star break.
As disappointing as Stults was, he was probably the most effective of the five Dodgers pitchers in this game, charged with three runs in 3 2/3 innings. Falkenborg allowed one run in 1 1/3 innings, Wade was touched for three runs in two innings, Beimel allowed one run and retired one batter and Kuo was nicked for two runs in 1 2/3 innings.
And it could have been worse. Led by Troy Tulowitzki's 5-for-5 night, the Rockies stranded a staggering 16 baserunners. They outhit the Dodgers 20 to 18.
"We couldn't shut the door," said Torrre. "It's a credit to their club, but we can pitch better than that."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.