Colorado called up pitcher Juan Nicasio from the minors to start Friday’s matchup against the streaking Dodgers, who had won 16 of the last 19 games and five in a row. Instead of looking as if he was thrown into the fire, Nicasio brought it, outdueling Dodgers All-Star Clayton Kershaw in a 3-0 victory for the Rockies.
Nicasio threw seven shutout innings and kept Dodgers hitters off balance the entire night, limiting them to four hits. The Dodgers came into Friday with double-digit hits in their last four games, while the Rockies had lost five of their last seven.
The loss drops the Dodgers to 46-46 and 2 1/2 games behind first-place Arizona after the Diamondbacks beat Milwaukee, 2-1, earlier Friday.
Kershaw, whose record drops to 8-6, came into Friday night with a 1.60 earned-run average in his last 10 home starts. But in the first inning, Kershaw gave up two early runs, or as many as he surrendered in 17 innings of his last two starts against the Rockies and Giants.
And for the second night in a row, Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig left the game with an aggravated left hip. Puig grounded out twice before being pulled in the top of the fifth inning before his third at-bat.
Meanwhile, Kershaw threw seven innings and struck out 10. But it was a rough start for the Dodgers ace that all but decided the outcome.
Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler led off the game with a single before stealing second base against Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis, who has thrown out half of the runners who attempted to steal this season. Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu followed with a single, before shortstop Troy Tulowitzki hit a sacrifice fly to deep center to score Fowler.
Instead of hitting the cut-off man, Dodgers center fielder Andre Ethier threw home, allowing LeMahieu to reach second. The decision came back to hurt the Dodgers when Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario singled home LeMahieu with two outs.
In the fifth inning, LeMahieu delivered a two-out, RBI single off Kershaw to extend the lead to 3-0.
The best Dodgers chance came in the fourth inning, when shortstop Hanley Ramirez hit a line drive double to the wall in left-center field with one out. But Ethier and Ellis, who were each hitless in three at-bats, both popped out to end what was really the only Dodgers' threat of the evening.
The Dodgers tried to start a ninth-inning rally off Rafael Betancourt when Adrian Gonzalez led off with a single, but Ramirez hit a deep fly ball that was caught by Fowler in center, followed by two lineouts to end the game. It was the 14th save of the season for Betancourt.
The Dodgers will send Zach Greinke (7-2, 3.91 ERA) to the mound for a 4:15 p.m. PDT start Saturday against Fontana native Tyler Chatwood (5-2, 2.74 ERA).Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times