And yet with Clayton Kershaw again struggling with consistent command, the Dodgers found themselves in a tie game in the eighth inning.
The freebie routine failing, they returned to what they’ve done best this season on offensive -- slug a home run. It can make things so simple.
This time it was Justin Turner, one of their many unexpected early power hitters, whose pinch-hit two-run homer led the Dodger to a 9-5 victory over the Rockies at a Coors Field that had to have almost six inches of snow removed before the game could even be played.
The Dodgers lead the majors in home runs with 48. Turner has two pinch hits this season, both for homers.
Enrique Hernandez opened the eighth with a single. Manager Don Mattingly, apparently believing in his bullpen’s early success even in mile-high Denver, played for one run and had catcher A.J. Ellis bunt Hernandez over to second.
Turner pinch-hit and blasted a shot to the deepest part of mammoth Coors Field to give the Dodgers a 7-5 lead. Maybe the Rockies were thinking they should not have done such a masterful job of removing the morning snow to allow Sunday’s game to be played. It was his fifth homer of the season.
Paco Rodriguez walked for the third time, was singled to third by Jimmy Rollins and scored on a Howie Kendrick base hit. Rollins scored on a sacrifice fly from Adrian Gonzalez, and the Dodgers had a four-run lead and earned a three-game sweep of the Rockies. The Dodgers have beaten Colorado eight consecutive times overall.
The Dodgers were up 2-0 in the fourth when the Rockies scored five times against Kershaw, who failed for the fourth time to win his 100th career game.
Kershaw lasted 5 2/3 innings, throwing 110 pitches. He was charged for five runs on eight hits and four walks. Only one of the hits was for extra bases, and that was not involved in Colorado’s scoring, but his control was still off from the Cy Young form he has spoiled Dodgers fans with over the previous four seasons. He now has an un-Kershaw-like 4.26 ERA.
He left the game with the bases loaded in the sixth, and Pedro Baez struck out Troy Tulowitzki on a 98-mph fastball.
The bullpen continued to reward Mattingly’s faith the rest of the day. Baez, Adam Liberatore and Yimi Garcia holding the Rockies scoreless over the final 3 1/3 innings. Baez (1-0) earned his first career victory.
After wild man Jorge De La Rosa walked the bases loaded in the fifth, Gonzalez cleared them with a double. He ended the day with four RBIs. De La Rosa walked six (in a seven-batter stretch) in his four innings.
The Dodgers upped their record to 20-10 with the victory.