DENVER -- Brad Penny was walking hitters, the slick glove of Blake DeWitt wasn’t so slick, and a four-run lead nearly dissipated into the thin Colorado air.
But when the 3-hour 33-minute game of oddities at Coors Field was over Friday night, the Dodgers had an 11-6 victory over the Colorado Rockies in the books, their winning streak extended to seven games and their deficit to NL West leader Arizona decreased to a mere four games.
The Dodgers did all of their scoring in the sixth and eighth innings to pound out their fourth win of the season over the Rockies, the reigning NL champions, who are 11-18 and will be without shortstop Troy Tulowitzki until at least the All-Star break.
The Rockies’ frustration was evident on the face of ace Jeff Francis, who fell to 0-3. Manager Clint Hurdle’s decision to pull the left-hander proved to be the turning point of the game, as it led to Dodgers Manager Joe Torre’s decision to insert Mark Sweeney and DeWitt as pinch-hitters in a decisive sixth inning, when L.A. scored seven runs. The Dodgers, who entered the inning down, 3-0, were suddenly ahead, 7-3.
“That inning worked for us,” Torre said.
Hurdle took out Francis with one out, the bases loaded, the score 3-1 and Andruw Jones at the plate. Francis had already struck out Jones twice, but Hurdle said he thought the situation was similar to others that Francis has struggled to escape.
Right-hander Ryan Speier came in and struck out Jones, but walked the left-handed Sweeney to close the gap to 3-2. A two-run single by DeWitt put the Dodgers ahead and Rafael Furcal increased the lead with a three-run home run.
“The blame falls on myself,” Francis said. “One bad inning got me knocked out of the game.”
Asked if the Rockies’ recent failures were any more frustrating because of what the team did last season, Francis snapped, “I don’t think anybody cares any more about last year.”
The Dodgers nearly unraveled in the seventh, when DeWitt made back-to-back fielding errors to start the inning, allowing Yorvit Torrealba and Clint Barmes to reach base. Only two days earlier, DeWitt had the best fielding percentage among third base men in the majors.
The Dodgers paid for DeWitt’s mistakes when Torrealba and Barmes were driven in on a triple by pinch-hitter Scott Podsednik. Right-hander Cory Wade’s night came to an end when he drilled Willy Taveras on the left forearm. DeWitt’s mind blanked later in the inning when, with the bases loaded, he fielded a grounder and delivered the ball to second for a force out instead of home, allowing Podsednik to score and close the gap to 7-6.
“I finally found out how to make him nervous,” Torre said of the previously unflappable rookie.
Left-hander Joe Beimel induced Todd Helton to ground into an inning-ending double play, but Furcal had to knock the helmet off of a high-sliding Matt Holliday at second to turn it.
The Dodgers responded with a four-run eighth, capped by a bases-clearing double by Kemp, who was two for five with two doubles and four runs batted in. Furcal also had four RBIs.
Penny (5-2) gave up a run in each of the first three innings, one on a Helton home run in the third.
He was uncharacteristically wild, walking four in five innings, something Torre blamed on the cool weather.
The game-time temperature was 40 degrees, down from 80 the previous day in Miami, and 19-mph winds were blowing in from center field that moved the portable cage during batting practice.