05/27/09 9:07 PM ET
Dodgers sweep way past Rockies
Loney's bases-clearing double sparks five-run seventh
By Owen Perkins / Special to MLB.com
The 12 Dodgers hits were spread around, with seven of the eight position players joining the parade and Juan Pierre leading the way with a 3-for-5 outing to raise his average to .404. He was 8-for-16 with two triples, a double and seven RBIs in the three-game series.
Pierre has epitomized the total team effort that has gone into the Dodgers maintaining the best record in baseball and pulling off a sweep at Coors Field with three of their regulars out of the lineup.
"He fights for everything he's got," manager Joe Torre said of Pierre. "I don't think there's a player or a coach or anybody with this ballclub who isn't happy for him."
The Dodgers got on the scoreboard early, with Mark Loretta coaxing a walk out of Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez, advancing to second on a grounder and scoring on James Loney's single to left. L.A. added an unearned run in the second after back-to-back singles to open the inning from Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp and an error by Jimenez covering first base on the tail end of an attempted double play.
Loretta started in place of another hot-hitting Dodger, Casey Blake, who sat out most of the game with a .309 average, 32 RBIs and a team-high nine home runs. Juan Castro earned a start while Rafael Furcal sat out a third game with upper leg tightness, and Castro ended up hitting 6-for-13 in the series.
"This is a 25-man team," Castro said. "This is not Manny [Ramirez's] team. Manny's part of it. Even when we had Manny, different guys contribute every day. That's the way we see it. We're 25 guys, and everybody goes out there and does their job."
Nearly lost in the effort was a quality start from Clayton Kershaw, who lasted six innings and yielded three runs on four hits and four walks while striking out four. The Rockies took advantage of his wildness in the third inning to close the gap, scoring on three walks, a sacrifice and a balked-in run. Kershaw's only other miscue was a two-run homer into the left-center alley by Ryan Spilborghs to lose the lead in the fourth.
"He reeled it back in," Torre said of Kershaw's ability to recover. "He looked like he got very flustered in that one inning, but he seemed to get it back together again. It's steps forward. We have to realize that what we see out there is growth stuff."
Kershaw (3-3) is having a solid year in his first full season in the big leagues after going 5-5 in 21 starts for the Dodgers in 2008. He's posted six starts in which he allowed one or no runs and three starts in which he's allowed four, six and nine runs, the latter being the Dodgers' only loss to the Rockies this season. His ability to bounce back from a challenging inning is the sign of a quickly maturing pitcher.
"It's weird. I can't explain why I lost my control for that inning," Kershaw said. "I always say, the guys who make adjustments the fastest are the good pitchers in this game. It shouldn't take an inning. It shouldn't take an out. It should take one pitch. I'm trying to figure that out as I go. It's not easy. It just takes a little time."
Jimenez kept the Dodgers in check until the seventh inning, when Pierre laced a two-out, run-scoring single past a diving Todd Helton to even the score and drive Jimenez from the game. Loretta followed with a bloop RBI single off Manual Corpas, who left after walking Orlando Hudson to load the bases.
"He was throwing hard, and he had the sinker," Castro said of Jimenez's performance. "He was moving the ball in and out. He was throwing the ball good and low, and we were trying to get him up a little bit. I don't know if that's exactly what happened that inning, but we were glad that we scored some runs at least."
Loney broke the game open with a three-run double into the gap in right-center, and Pierre drove in an insurance run in the eighth, enough to stave off Colorado's three-run rally in the final frame, capped by Helton's bases-loaded walk by closer Jonathan Broxton, who needed 38 pitches to preserve the win.
"So much for saving your closer," Torre said, after using three pitchers to complete the ninth inning. "We tried. He wound up working harder than if he started the inning.
"I don't think Broxton was wild," Torre added. "He was just, as we all are, very wary of Helton in that last inning."
The win was the Dodgers' eighth in nine games against Colorado, and their second sweep over the Rockies was especially sweet given that no other team has managed the feat once this season.
"It was a good few days here," Torre said. "This is not an easy place to come in and play. We certainly played every inning, which is all I ever ask for, and we've been getting that."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.