It's drive-in theater for Loney

Times Staff Writer

DENVER -- When the Dodgers landed in Colorado, James Loney said he started thinking about the day two seasons ago when he drove in nine runs in a single game at Coors Field.

At the insistence of Mark Sweeney and third base coach Larry Bowa, he talked about it.

Saturday night, he nearly relived it.

Loney hit a home run and drove in six runs in the Dodgers' eighth consecutive victory, a 12-7 win over the Colorado Rockies that kept the surging club four games back of division leader Arizona.

"No nine, sorry," Loney said, smiling. "No nine."

Loney had a chance to equal, if not surpass, his RBI total of Sept. 28, 2006, when he went to the plate with the bases loaded in his final at-bat in the eighth inning. Josh Newman struck him out.

"I just missed my pitch," Loney said of a first-pitch fastball.

The first baseman laughed about how sometime between his three-run home run in the fifth and that at-bat, first base coach Mariano Duncan mentioned to him that he needed four more RBIs. Loney replied that he needed the bases to be loaded.

"Too real," Loney said, shaking his head.

Loney's two-for-five evening fueled a continuing Dodgers blitzkrieg that resulted in 14 hits. Manager Joe Torre praised his lineup for working counts -- Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa had to throw 17 pitches to get his first out -- and using the entire field.

Of Loney in particular, the manager said, "When he uses the whole field, he's pretty special. He's got some tools. The only thing he needs are at-bats."

De La Rosa was driven from the game without recording an out in the fifth, as he was pulled by Manager Clint Hurdle upon giving up the home run to Loney. De La Rosa, who was acquired earlier in the week to complete a spring trade with Kansas City for Ramon Ramirez, was charged with nine runs and nine hits. He walked four.

The home run ended a 6-6 tie and put the Dodgers ahead, 9-6.

The Dodgers wasted no time pouncing on De La Rosa, as their first three hitters singled. Russell Martin, starting at third base for the second game in a row, drew a bases-loaded walk and Loney cleared the bases with a double to left-center put the Dodgers up, 4-0.

They scored two more runs in the second.

But Dodgers starter Esteban Loaiza's day wasn't much better than De La Rosa's, and he squandered the six-run advantage. He let the first five batters reach base in a three-run second inning and served up a leadoff home run to Matt Holliday in the third that closed the gap to 6-4. Two batters later, he gave up a double to Garrett Atkins and his night was over.

The first pitch delivered by Loaiza's replacement, Hong-Chih Kuo, was crushed by Brad Hawpe over the right-field wall for a two-run homer that tied the score.

Kuo settled down, facing 10 batters from the fourth to sixth innings. He struck out the side in the fifth.

"Once Loney hit the home run, I felt more comfortable," Kuo said.

Setup man Jonathan Broxton, who missed the previous four games because of strained muscle in his armpit region, entered the game with two on and two out in the seventh and struck out Jeff Baker to escape the jam. He pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning.

"I guess it was a test that he passed," Torre said of Broxton.

Closer Takashi Saito pitched a shaky ninth, allowing the first two batters to reach base and the next two to drive balls to the warning track.


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