Julio Urías dominates in Dodgers win after another bout of first-inning struggles

Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urias delivers during the third inning of a 9-3 win over the Colorado Rockies.
Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urias delivers during the third inning of a 9-3 win over the Colorado Rockies on Thursday.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

It’s Julio Urías’ dominance from the second inning onward that makes his struggles in the first so confounding.

That season-long trend was exemplified Thursday night, as the Dodgers starter gave up two runs in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies before shutting down their lineup over the next five.

The latter stretch was good enough to help the Dodgers win 9-3 at Coors Field, bringing their magic number for an NL West title down to five. The former, however, only added to the last big question mark hovering over the left-hander with the start of the playoffs less than two weeks away.


“You can’t let that beat you,” Urías said through an interpreter after overcoming his first-inning hiccup. “You have to understand that inning has passed and continue working and hopefully work into the sixth or seventh inning. That’s the mentality. … Unfortunately, it happened again today but I’m going to continue to try to tackle that.”

Dodgers reliever Caleb Ferguson is set to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery to repair a tear in his left ulnar collateral ligament.

Urías faced trouble from the start, missing the zone with three straight fastballs to begin the game. Raimel Tapia eventually singled later in the at-bat, Trevor Story followed with a double, then Charlie Blackmon and Kevin Pillar opened the scoring with a sacrifice fly and RBI single. By the time the inning ending, Urías had thrown 26 pitches.

After that, however, the 24-year-old was nearly flawless, needing just 43 pitches to retire the next 12 batters he faced. After a leadoff error by third baseman Edwin Ríos in the sixth inning snapped that streak, Urías recorded two more outs before manager Dave Roberts turned to the bullpen, which received a scoreless inning from Dylan Floro and saw Joe Kelly make his first appearance since Aug. 8.

By the time Urías exited — posting a stat line of 52/3 innings, two runs, three hits and two strikeouts — the Dodgers had tied the score. Then they blew it open with a six-run top of the seventh that included an RBI single from Mookie Betts, an RBI double from Corey Seager, a two-run double from Will Smith and a run-scoring wild pitch and passed ball.

Urías didn’t get credit for the win despite recording his second straight start of two runs or fewer and eighth in 10 total outings this season.

If not for his 9.00 ERA in first innings (that number drops to 2.08 in the second inning or later and 3.49 overall), he might have already locked down the No. 3 spot in the Dodgers’ rotation. Instead, he remains in competition with Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin for postseason roles as the regular season enters its final nine games.

Roberts, who said he’s “not close at all” to finalizing postseason pitching plans, wants to see Urías’ aggressive mid-game approach from the start.

“Even talking to him on the bench afterward, it’s more of getting that mind-set like it’s the fifth or sixth inning in the first inning,” Roberts said.

Asked if he’d consider using an opener in front of Urías, Roberts said, “It’s certainly a thought. But I think it’s still the warmup, the ramp-up, whatever that is. … The key is once he gets out on the mound, he’s got to be ready to rip it.”

Short hops

Outfielder Joc Pederson is expected to rejoin the team following an off day Monday. Pederson was placed on the family medical emergency list Wednesday. … Justin Turner was the designated hitter for a third straight game as the Dodgers continue to be cautious with his hamstring recovery. “To reach back for more in any case right now is just not worth it,” Roberts said. “We’re just being smart with it.”

Three takeaways for Dodgers

  • Don’t put runners on base in front of Mookie Betts or Corey Seager. They are tied for the team lead in RBIs with 36 after Betts recorded one Thursday and Seager drove in two, coming up only a triple shy of the cycle.

  • Edwin Ríos continues to hit for power, clubbing his fifth home run of the season and ninth in his 101 at-bat career. According to Statcast, his eighth-inning solo blast had an exit velocity of 110.4 mph.

  • Will Smith extended his month-long hot streak, recording his 12th RBI in 15 games since coming off the injured list Aug. 23. In that span, the catcher is batting .368 with 11 extra-base hits.

Harris reported from Los Angeles.