Dodgers beat Rockies in 11 to avoid sweep
LOS ANGELES – If the Los Angeles Dodgers go on to send Joe Torre off with a winning record, they definitely will remember this one.
If the Colorado Rockies fall just short of the postseason, they probably will remember this one for a different reason.
A.J. Ellis lined an RBI single over a drawn-in infield in the 11th inning after Matt Kemp doubled home the tying run in the ninth, helping the Dodgers record their biggest comeback win of the season in a 7-6 victory over the Rockies on Sunday.
Los Angeles improved to 73-77 with 12 games left.
“We definitely want to send Joe out of here with a winning record,” reliever George Sherrill said. “It’s just a matter of having some pride and showing what we’re made of. They put it to us the last couple of days, and they were on our throats early today. But we got back in it and the bullpen stepped up and gave us a chance.”
Sherrill (2-2) relieved demoted Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton with the bases loaded and two out in the 11th, and struck out NL batting leader Carlos Gonzalez on a breaking ball.
“He’s a heck of a hitter, and he and Troy Tulowitzki and carrying that team right now,” Sherrill said. “It was just a matter of getting Brox out of that jam and giving us a shot. Fortunately I was able to do it today and A.J. came through for us.”
The Dodgers got a break in the bottom half when Rafael Furcal was ruled safe at first by umpire Jim Reynolds on a potential double-play grounder to second base. Kemp’s single against Manny Delcarmen (0-2) sent Furcal to third, and Andre Ethier was intentionally walked before Ellis lined a 3-2 pitch just over the outstretched glove of shortstop Tulowitzki.
Ellis, the third catcher Torre used in the 4 hour, 21-minute contest, was 7 for 8 in the series with three RBIs.
“We had some pride out there and fought back,” Kemp said. “We fought every at-bat, got a walk here and a base hit there, and A.J. came up with a big knock.”
Colorado remained third in the NL West, 1 1/2 games behind division-leading San Francisco and a full game behind San Diego. The Rockies will no doubt take great interest in the Dodgers’ next series, a three-game set against the Padres in Los Angeles beginning Tuesday night.
“We’re not really worried about spoiling anybody’s chances of making the playoffs. We’re just trying to win games, and whatever happens happens,” Kemp said.
Down to their last two outs and trailing 6-5, the Dodgers pulled even against closer Huston Street when Furcal doubled to right-center, advanced on a wild pitch and scored when Kemp drilled a 2-1 pitch down the left-field line. The blown save was Street’s fifth in 25 opportunities.
“It’s a frustrating loss because we were three outs away, but it’s not a backbreaker,” Street said. “It’s tough to let a big lead like that slip away, no matter what part of the season it is, and today’s no different. All of us are kind of feeling it, but we go into an off day and we can forget about it. We’ve put ourselves in a position now where we need to just continue to play solid baseball.”
Kemp and Ethier hit solo homers for Los Angeles, the 23rd of the season for both. Kemp’s drive center off Matt Belisle in the seventh inning snapped a drought of 23 games and 79 at-bats since his 449-foot homer at Milwaukee on Aug. 24.
The Rockies staked Jason Hammel to a 6-1 lead, but the right-hander was removed with an undisclosed injury after giving up three runs in the fourth.
Trainer Keith Dugger and manager Jim Tracy went to the mound to check on him with an 0-2 count on Kemp, who hit an inning-ending grounder after the Dodgers got two-out RBI singles by Rod Barajas and pinch-hitter Jamey Carroll, and a run-scoring double by Furcal.
Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw was charged with six runs – four earned – and four hits over four innings in his second-shortest outing this season.
It was a stark contrast from Kershaw’s previous start last Tuesday at San Francisco, when the 22-year-old left-hander allowed four hits in a 1-0 victory for his first complete game.
Kershaw came into Sunday’s outing with a string of 29 consecutive scoreless innings against the Rockies at Chavez Ravine, a streak that ended when he walked three of his first four batters and watched all of them score on a double by Jason Giambi that hit off the glove of left fielder Jay Gibbons near the top of the fence – and should have been caught.
Colorado scored three times in the second. Jonathan Herrera doubled home a run, Gonzalez followed with an RBI single and Herrera scored on Tulowitzki’s infield out. It was Tulowitzki’s 34th RBI this month, tying the franchise record for September that was set by Matt Holliday in 2006.
The Rockies didn’t get another hit until a one-out single in the seventh by Herrera, which snapped a string of 14 consecutive Colorado batters retired.
“Their bullpen came into the game and didn’t give us anything else,” Tracy said. “And as a result, they got closer and closer. Obviously, Matt Kemp had a big day, and we didn’t get A.J. Ellis out the entire series.”
NOTES: Torre was scheduled to fly from Los Angeles to New York on Sunday night and make his first visit to the new Yankee Stadium on Monday – along with hitting coach and future Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly – for the unveiling of a monument dedicated to George Steinbrenner in the ballpark’s famed Monument Park. … Colorado LF Ryan Spilborghs was 0 for 4, ending his career-best hitting streak to 12 games – a stretch that included five pinch-hits.
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