Photo: AP Images
DENVER (AP) — Clayton Kershaw was dealing. Matt Kemp was delivering. And the Los Angeles Dodgers were cruising.Through 6½ innings, the Dodgers owned a 7-3 lead over the Colorado Rockies, Kemp was a single shy of hitting for the cycle for the first time in his career and Kershaw was well on his way to winning at Coors Field, where he owns a bulging ERA and plenty of bad memories.
It all fell apart in the seventh, when the Rockies rallied for five runs on their way to a 9-7 punch-to-the-gut win over the crestfallen Dodgers.
Kershaw couldn’t get an out, giving up two singles and a walk to finish his night, and the bullpen blew up, allowing an RBI single, two bases-loaded walks and a two-run bloop single.
“You know your going to give up hits, that’s the way it is,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “This ballpark is big, you got to play deep, the ball carries. There’s going to be hits out there, but when you give up the walks, you just give them more chances and get yourself in trouble.”
Troy Tulowitzki drove in four runs, including a tying two-run single in Colorado’s five-run seventh inning, Gonzalez collected three hits and Todd Helton reached base four times for the Rockies, whose offence finally picked up its pitching.
“We’ve been looking for this the whole year,” Gonzalez said.
After scoring just 13 runs over an eight-game stretch, the worst in franchise history, the Rockies have scored 14 runs in their last two games.
Tulowitzki, who has driven in seven runs in the last two games, delivered against Mike MacDougal and pinch-hitter Jason Giambi drew a bases-loaded walk to break the 7-7 tie as the Rockies sent 11 batters to the plate in the seventh.
With the rally, Matt Reynolds stood to get the win, but because he was ineffective — three runs and four hits in one inning — the official scorer gave the victory to Rafael Betancourt (2-0), who pitched a perfect eighth.
Scott Elbert (0-1) recorded just one out while picking up the loss, yielding two runs and a hit.
Chris Nelson’s sacrifice fly in the eighth provided an insurance run for the Rockies before Huston Street got the final three outs for his 18th save in 20 chances.
Street gave up a one-out double to Andre Ethier before striking out Kemp and getting Rod Barajas on a flyout to right field.
Kemp was well aware he was flirting with the cycle.
“All the fans behind me in the on-deck circle were telling me,” he said. “I knew that but I was just trying to drive in ‘Dre. He made a good pitch and got me out.”
Kemp said he wasn’t swinging for the fences there, either.
“No, you really don’t want to think like that. All I was doing was trying to drive the ball right back up the middle,” he said. “He threw me a fastball that I just missed. The rule is, you can’t miss your fastball, and I missed my fastball.”
Behind Kemp’s continued power surge — he hit his NL-leading 18th homer and drove in three — the Dodgers built leads of 4-0 and 7-3 that left-hander Clayton Kershaw couldn’t hold.
Kershaw, who has a 5.76 ERA in nine career starts at Coors Field, cruised through five scoreless innings and even keyed two three-run innings with singles before allowing three runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh.
Kershaw, who gave up six runs and seven hits, left after Colorado loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh. Elbert, a hard-throwing lefty who hadn’t allowed a run in 7 2-3 innings since being recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque on May 11, gave up an RBI single to Gonzalez.
Helton drew a one-out walk and Tulowitzki’s bloop hit to right off MacDougal tied it at 7. Ty Wigginton was hit by a 3-2 fastball to load the bases for Giambi, who drew a walk to give the Rockies their first lead of the night.
Kemp continued his torrid road trip with a 3-for-5 night. Through the first seven games of the Dodgers’ 10-game swing, he’s 14 for 28 with five homers and 13 RBIs.
Kemp put the Dodgers ahead 1-0 when he started the fourth with a drive to centre on an 80-mph slider from rookie right-hander Juan Nicasio.
Kershaw led off the fifth with a comebacker that was barely out of Nicasio’s reach. He came around to score on Ethier’s two-out single. Nicasio was one strike away from escaping further trouble when he served up a two-run triple to Kemp that made it 4-0.
Kershaw ran into trouble in the sixth when the Rockies loaded the bases with one out and Tulowitzki sent Kershaw’s first pitch down the left-field line for a two-run double that cut the Dodgers’ lead in half.
“It’s nice to come up with the bases loaded as opposed to leading off an inning,” Tulowitzki said.
Kershaw led off the seventh with his second straight single, this one off Matt Reynolds.
Dee Gordon tried to sacrifice him to second, but the bunt hugged the chalk line as he sped past for a single. Morales, the catcher, scooped up the ball and while falling down, inexplicably threw the ball several feet wide of Helton at first base, allowing Kershaw to score all the way from first.
Casey Blake’s RBI double made it 6-3, and he moved up on a wild pitch and scored on Ethier’s sacrifice fly.
The Rockies rallied in the bottom half.
“It turned out to be a hitter’s matchup today,” Kemp said. “They just scored more runs and out-hit us basically, not too much to say.”
NOTES: The Dodgers optioned rookie OF Jerry Sands to Triple-A Albuquerque and recalled left-handed hitting OF Trent Oeltjen. … Kemp has six multi-hit games this month.
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