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Matt Kemp’s late home run extends Dodgers’ bullpen woes in loss to Rockies

Colorado Rockies designated hitter Matt Kemp, right, celebrates with Kevin Pillar and Josh Fuentes.
Colorado’s Matt Kemp, right, celebrates with Kevin Pillar and Josh Fuentes after hitting a two-run homer against the Dodgers in the eighth inning Sunday night.
(Kelvin Kuo / Associated Press)

The ball carried and carried, escorted by the hot air, and Matt Kemp flung his bat to watch it travel over the left-field wall. It was a sequence the Dodgers had witnessed so often — Kemp clubbing a late game-changing home run at Dodger Stadium. But that was when he was in their uniform. On Sunday, he wore the Colorado Rockies’ grays.

As the Dodgers watched in disappointment, the dugout down the first-base line erupted once Kemp’s two-run home run off left-hander Caleb Ferguson landed. The power display — Kemp’s 285th career home run and third against Los Angeles — gave the Rockies the lead on their way to a 7-6 win.

For the third straight night, the Dodgers’ bullpen was tasked with keeping the Rockies (20-20) off the board in a close game. For the third straight night, it failed. And Ferguson, so reliable for the season’s first five weeks, was in the middle of the struggles this weekend.

On Friday, he surrendered two runs and got one out in the Rockies’ four-run eighth inning before the Dodgers recovered with five runs in the bottom of the inning to take the lead and win the game. The Dodgers, however, couldn’t rebound from his mistake Sunday. After allowing one home run in his first 15 appearances combined this season, Ferguson has given one up in each of his last three.

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Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was tossed for yelling at umpires from a luxury suite in Atlanta on Sunday.

With the loss, the Dodgers (30-12) saw their unbeaten series streak to begin the season snapped at 14. They’ve lost consecutive games for the third time this season.

“That one to Kemp, it was 0-1, it was down below the zone, and he did a great job of hitting a homer,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “So it’s just one of those things that I want to keep Fergie confident because we’re going to keep running him out there.”

The Dodgers had someone other than Mookie Betts or Joc Pederson in the leadoff spot for the first time in more than a month. Roberts said Betts was given the day off to rest and Pederson wasn’t with the team because of a family matter.

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His choice Sunday was Gavin Lux as the organization strives to give its top prospect ample runway to find his footing weeks before the playoffs. Lux went hitless in his five plate appearances, but he worked a 10-pitch walk with two outs in the ninth inning to bring up Corey Seager. The shortstop already had two home runs on the night. With two runners on base, he had a chance to win the game. He grounded out to second base to end it.

The relief corps was tasked to secure 14 outs once starter Julio Urías was pulled with one out in the fifth inning. He left with a runner on base and the Dodgers trailing 3-2. Dylan Floro then allowed the runner to score on Nolan Arenado’s single.

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Highlights from the Dodgers’ 7-6 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.

Seager responded with his second home run to tie the score in the bottom of the inning. Seager’s first homer was a fly ball that carried over the left-field wall in the first inning. The second, Seager’s 11th this season, was a 111.3-mph missile that traveled 427 feet. With it, Seager chased Rockies starter Ryan Castellani and posted his eighth career multi-home run game. He’s batting .333 with a 1.017 on-base-plus-slugging percentage this season.

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Colorado regained the lead on Garrett Hampson’s RBI triple off Jake McGee in the sixth inning before Chris Taylor put the Dodgers ahead with another two-run homer in the bottom of the inning.

The back-and-forth ended when Kemp, still slugging in his 15th season, extended Ferguson’s sudden struggles. It was the 35-year-old former All-Star’s 117th career home run at Dodger Stadium and second as the opponent. Only Eric Karros, Ron Cey and Steve Garvey have hit more home runs at Chavez Ravine.

Short hops

Reliever Pedro Báez, on the injured list with a strained right groin, threw a simulated game at Dodger Stadium before Sunday’s game. Báez has been on the injured list since Aug. 20. ... Justin Turner was one of the hitters Báez faced. Turner is on the injured list with a hamstring strain. He is eligible for activation Tuesday, but Roberts said he doesn’t know when Turner will return. Meanwhile, Turner reached 10 years of MLB service time Sunday, making him fully vested for the pension program.

Three takeaways on the Dodgers

  • Julio Urías has failed to log more than five innings in five of his eight starts and hasn’t thrown more than 79 pitches in seven. The left-hander owns a 3.86 ERA.
  • Manager Dave Roberts could have used Mookie Betts as a pinch-hitter in the ninth against Rockies closer Daniel Bard, but he decided to avoid playing Betts at all before the game.
  • The Dodgers fell to 9-2 when hitting at least three home runs in a game this season.

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