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DENVER – One night after one of their worst games as a collective, the Colorado Rockies bullpen allowed just two hits and did not give up a run, backing up a decent outing from Jon Gray and making sure a clutch home run from rookie Ryan McMahon would hold up as the game-winner over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Rockies take the second game of the set by a score of 5-4.
The scoring got started, as it so often does against the Rockies, in the top of the first. Justin Turner sliced a one-out double down the right-field line and came in to score on a Yasmani Grandal jam-shot single to center. Cody Bellinger managed a soft single with two outs but Gray struck out Chris Taylor to leave a pair of runners aboard and limit the first-inning damage.
The Rockies responded right away, getting a leadoff single from Charlie Blackmon in the bottom of the first, lining one back up the middle. He was able to trot around the bases with ease when DJ LeMahieu made sure that his struggles on Thursday to find the right space with line drives would not be an issue, smashing one into the Rockies dugout for a two-run, go-ahead home run.
It was LeMahieu’s ninth homer of the year.
Carlos Gonzalez followed that with a triple into the right-center field gap, giving the Rockies a great opportunity to score another early run. But he took off for home when Nolan Arenado hit a grounder to third and was thrown out at the plate by Justin Turner.
The Rockies did manage to add in the third after a CarGo walk and a one-out double from Trevor Story. In a near-mirror image of a play in which Gonzalez scored in the first game of the series, he raced from first to home, needing to slide this time. That allowed Story to reach third, again presenting an opportunity to add.
But again, on a grounder to the right side this time, from David Dahl, Story was just barely thrown out at home; the second run taken off the board for Colorado in three innings.
Those missed chances bit with an extra sting in the top of the fourth when Bellinger singled against Gray again and Max Muncy found the first especially hard contact against the Rockies starter all game, smashing a hung slider over the high wall in right-center to tie the game at three runs apiece.
Arenado was removed from the game at this point with an apparent shoulder issue, replaced at third by Ryan McMahon.
Trouble unfolded for Gray in the top of the fifth thanks to some wildness. He plunked Justin Turner with one out and walked Brian Dozier with two bringing up Bellinger who already had a couple of hits in the game. The Dodgers Rookie-of-the-Year from last season made it 3-for-3 when he placed a ground ball just between the shifted infield up the middle for a go-ahead single.
After a quick bottom of the fifth, Gray stayed on for the top of the sixth and gave up a lead-off double to Muncy just out of the reach of a sprinting David Dahl in left. Yasiel Puig grounded out to second, allowing Muncy to reach third and the Dodgers elected to leave in Maeda in the ensuing at-bat. Gray did what he needed to, getting his opposite number to pop out to third in what turned out to be his final encounter of the evening.
Bud Black called on Harrison Musgrave to face lefty Joc Pederson and the West Virginia product got the out on a fly ball to left, stranding the runner at third.
Ian Desmond led off the bottom of the sixth with a hard single through the hole on the right side. He swiped second for his 13th stolen base of the year. The only other player in the National League with at least 13 stolen bases and 19 home runs in Javier Baez of the Chicago Cubs.
Chris Iannetta failed to advance Desmond, striking out in the second at-bat of the inning. Black went with Gerardo Parra and Dave Roberts countered by going to Zac Rosscup, the lefty specialist who spent most of this season in the Rockies organization before being picked up by LA on waivers.
In a knife-twisting turn of irony, Rosscup—who was never successful in MLB while with the Rockies—did exactly what Colorado has needed all year; retiring a pair of lefties in Parra and Blackmon to leave the tying run at second.
But the Dodgers elected to stay with Rosscup in the seventh. DJ LeMahieu led off with a single against him but he bounced back to strike out Gonzalez and had another lefty due up in rookie Ryan McMahon who entered the game when Arenado left in the fifth.
McMahon came through with the biggest hit of his career, hitting a towering shot over the wall in center field, swinging the score back in favor of the Rockies at 5-4. McMahon is now 7-for-24 (.292) with a homer, two doubles and a triple left-on-left.
Jake McGee, who pitched a clean seventh on six pitches, stayed on for the eighth and got Bellinger to make his first out in the game on a fly ball to right. He got Chris Taylor, though on a screaming line drive that was tracked down by Blackmon in center. McGee got ahead of Muncy but gave up another hard hit ball that skipped by LeMahieu at second, rolling into the gap for a two-out double.
That brought Scott Oberg into the game to face a righty in Puig. He got ahead with a couple of nasty sliders and jammed him with a 98 mph fastball to induce the ground out to shortstop.
Colorado missed a chance to add an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, getting an unlikely lead-off triple from Chris Iannetta thanks in large part to Pederson misplaying a line drive in left. But pinch-hitter Pat Valaika struck out, Blackmon hit a grounder back to the pitcher, and LeMahieu struck out on one of his ugliest swings ever to end the inning without cashing in the run.
After Wade Davis’ tough night in the first game, Black turned to Adam Ottavino in the ninth. He struck out Manny Machado on three pitches and got a weak ground out from Pederson but Justin Turner jumped on one, lining a single to left. Grandal hit a grounder by a diving Desmond but LeMahieu fielded the ball in shallow right and threw to Ottavino who was sprinting to the bag, securing the win.
Colorado improved to 61-55 and are 2.5 games back of both the Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks for first place in the NL West.
Jon Gray: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
Harrison Musgrave: 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
Jake McGee: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
Scott Oberg: 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
DJ LeMahieu: 2-for-3, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB (HR: 9)
Ryan McMahon: 1-for-2, 1 R, 2 RBI (HR: 3)
Charlie Blackmon: 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 BB
Carlos Gonzalez: 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 BB
In the third game of the series, Walker Buehler will face off against Kyle Freeland who has been brilliant at home. First pitch at 6:10 Mountain Time.