DENVER — Edinson Volquez and Carlos Marmol are with the Dodgers for the same reason: to rediscover the form that once made them All-Stars, and, perhaps, to be part of something special in October.
Volquez and Marmol both pitched in the Dodgers’ 7-5 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday at Coors Field. The game didn’t move them any closer to their stated objectives, instead offering sobering reminders of why their former teams let them go.
The two reclamation projects combined to give up all of the runs scored by the Rockies, who ended the Dodgers’ winning streak at six games.
Volquez lasted only four innings in his first start with the Dodgers, who signed him as a free agent last week after he was released by the San Diego Padres. He was charged with four runs and six hits.
In Marmol’s case, what happened this night appeared on the surface to be an anomaly. The right-hander came into the game not having allowed a run in his previous 11 appearances, a stretch spanning 92/3 innings. But in giving up three hits in a three-run seventh inning that put the game out of the Dodgers’ reach, Marmol looked uncomfortably similar to the pitcher who lost his job as the Chicago Cubs’ closer earlier this season. The final run scored on a balk.
The defeat didn’t appear to bother the Dodgers, who still hold a 12 1/2-game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League West. Wanting his players to be rested for a series in Cincinnati that starts Friday, Manager Don Mattingly fielded a lineup without Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford and Mark Ellis.
The reason the Dodgers are extending these opportunities to Volquez and Marmol was evident even in defeat, as both pitchers’ fastballs touched the mid-90s. Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt rebuilt an out-of-form Brandon League last year and the team figured he might be able to perform similar magic with Volquez and Marmol, who were All-Stars in 2008.
Mattingly defended Volquez’s performance, pointing to how Todd Helton’s second-inning solo home run probably wouldn’t have been a home run in most other ballparks and that a disputed call in the basepaths led to the Rockies’ run in the third inning. “I didn’t think he was that bad today,” Mattingly said.
The more people talked, the better Volquez became.
Volquez was surprisingly upbeat, considering his earned-run average increased from 5.97 to 6.05. “Mechanically, good,” Volquez said. “I was doing everything they wanted me to do. I just missed my spots today. I have to execute my pitches now.”
Catcher A.J. Ellis offered an even more optimistic scouting report.
“He threw the ball outstanding,” Ellis said. “His command was great. He used all of his pitches well. The ball has great life in the strikezone. It was a lot of fun to catch.”
Ellis demonstrated why he is so well-liked in the clubhouse, blaming himself for Volquez’s wild pitch in the Rockies’ two-run first inning and ignoring the pair of extra-base hits his new battery mate served up earlier. “I wish we could have done more for him,” Ellis said.
They came close to turning his loss into a no-decision.
Aided by a fielding error by second baseman Josh Rutledge, the Dodgers scored three times in the eighth inning to close the gap to 7-5.
The one benefit of resting so many players was that Mattingly was able to call on some of his best hitters to pinch-hit in key situations. Later the eighth, he sent Crawford and Puig to face Manny Corpas with the tying run on base. Both of them struck out.