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Dodgers pull away in the ninth to win slugfest against the Rockies

Dodgers pull away in the ninth to win slugfest against the Rockies
Dodgers' Enrique Hernandez hits a three-run home run in the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies on Thursday in Denver. (Matthew Stockman / Getty Images)

For the Dodgers to continue their big-brother bully act and extend their winning streak over the Colorado Rockies to 12 games Thursday night, they were going to have to score and score and score some more. That became obvious to them during batting practice, when Max Muncy hit a ball to the third deck and Edwin Rios, a rookie who joined the team hours earlier, hit one even farther. It was hot and the balls were flying more than usual even at Coors Field’s altitude.

“It's not usually this hot here,” Dodgers shortstop Chris Taylor said, “so it's like a double whammy.”

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The supposition was solidified as the Rockies lined baseballs off Walker Buehler through the sweltering, thin air, making Buehler look nothing like the man who had arguably been the best pitcher in baseball in June. The Dodgers, already boasting one of the highest-scoring offenses in baseball without the video-game confines a mile above sea, responded with an onslaught, capped off with a four-run ninth inning to seize the lead en route to a 12-8 victory to begin a four-game series against the club in a distant second place behind them in the National League West. Their lead in the division grew to 13 games.

Taylor finished off a four-hit effort with a go-ahead bloop single against Rockies closer Wade Davis in the ninth inning. Two batters later, Enrique Hernandez hammered a pinch-hit, three-run home run to straightaway center field to supply some breathing room. The Dodgers (56-27) clubbed six home runs in total — twice going back-to-back — and 17 hits overall.

“We needed every run we could get tonight,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

Buehler and Peter Lambert encountered a challenge that starting pitchers occasionally confront over the course of a season: facing the same team two starts in a row. Lambert allowed three runs over five innings at Dodger Stadium on Saturday. Buehler, meanwhile, was coming off the best start of his career when he tossed his first career complete game with a career-high 16 strikeouts and no walks against the Rockies last Friday. The recent clash complicated the pitchers’ game plans. Coors Field provided a steeper challenge.

After allowing three runs in his first 31 innings in June, Buehler gave up four in his first 2⅓ innings Thursday. The number was up to seven when Buehler walked off the mound with two outs in the sixth inning, the most he’s given up in his young career. He also surrendered a career-high 13 hits — the most any pitcher has allowed in the majors this season. He collected four strikeouts and issued one walk in his 5 ⅔ innings.

“I've thrown the ball well here before,” Buehler said, “I've thrown it OK here before, and now I've thrown it really bad here before.”

Two of the 13 hits were two-run triples. Garrett Hampson smacked one over center fielder Alex Verdugo’s head in the second inning and Charlie Blackmon lashed one down the right-field line in the sixth. None of the 13 hits were home runs, though Ryan McMahon later slugged a 479-foot moonshot off Yimi Garcia to tie the game in the seventh inning.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, capitalized on the conditions to bang six balls over the fence. Cody Bellinger tallied the first home run with a boost; his fly ball in the second inning bounced off David Dahl’s glove and over the wall to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. Muncy homered on the next pitch and added a two-run homer in the seventh inning with a line drive that carried over the left-field wall. He emerged Alex Verdugo launched a two-run home run in the fifth and Justin Turner followed with his second homer in two games after hitting one in his previous 34. Lambert didn’t survive the inning. He allowed five runs on nine hits in 4 ⅔ frames.

“With the hot weather,” Muncy said, “it just seemed like the ball never came down today.”

The Dodgers’ final blast traveled 430 feet off Hernandez’s bat. He raised his right arm in excitement when he saw the ball creep over the green wall. The Dodgers’ dugout exploded in jubilation. They were sure they had finally scored enough.

Short hops

The Dodgers called up infielder Edwin Rios and left-hander Zac Rosscup from triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday. Right-hander Tony Gonsolin, who made his major-league debut Wednesday, and left-hander Caleb Ferguson were optioned as the corresponding moves. The club transferred outfielder A.J. Pollock from the 10-day injured list to the 60-day injured list. Pollock was placed on the injured list April 30 with an elbow infection and is expected to return after the All-Star break.

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