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DENVER – The Colorado Rockies had every opportunity to win the opener of their four-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, getting a fantastic outing from Tyler Anderson and some key timely hits, including a big blast from Chris Iannetta. But the bullpen absolutely imploded in the late going, surrendering seven runs on five home runs in the final three innings.
That kicked the game away, handing a divisional battle to their opponents by a score of 8-5.
Starters Anderson and Ross Stripling each brought their best stuff leaving the game to be decided in the late innings.
The Dodgers drew first blood by scratching out a run against Anderson in the second. Enrique Hernandez hit one of the few hard line drives against the Rockies starter all evening, finding space in left enough to reach second base for a double. He managed to third when Anderson was paying more attention to hitter Chris Taylor than he was to the runner.
That ended up being big when Taylor managed to flare a soft liner into shallow-but-just-deep-enough center to score Hernandez ahead of Charlie Blackmon’s throw.
Colorado struck back in the fourth with a two-out mini-rally. Carlos Gonzalez watched six pitches—all well out of the zone but two called for strikes—drawing a walk. Nolan Arenado, who had recorded the only hit against Stripling to that point, worked into a full count which allowed the runner to be put in motion. Stripling challenged Arenado under those circumstances and it did not pay off for him.
The star third baseman ripped a double down the left-field line, allowing Gonzalez to score the tying run easily from first. That made Arenado 7-for-13 against the Dodger’s All-Star pitcher.
The game stayed tied until the top of the seventh in the first inning for the Rockies bullpen. Pinch-hitter Joc Pederson led off against Scott Oberg and hit a rare opposite-field home run just over the wall in left to put the Dodgers on top. Two batters later, another lefty pinch-hitter, Max Muncy, produced a near replica, swinging a bit late but barreling a fastball the other way just over the fence to make it 3-1, Dodgers.
But the Rockies also took immediate advantage of the Dodgers going to their bullpen. Arenado got things started by looping a single to center after fouling off several pitches for his third hit of the game. David Dahl, after a Story strikeout, followed by drawing a walk even though he fell behind in the count 0-2. Ian Desmond came up with a big base hit to center but Arenado slammed on the breaks around third.
He might have scored, but with the club down a pair, it was wise not to risk it. He felt justified on the first pitch of Chris Iannetta’s at-bat when Yasmani Grandal whiffed on one behind the plate, allowing him to score. But that might have been a moot point anyway as Iannetta’s increased line drive rate as of late finally paid off when he smashed one over the wall in left, almost exactly where Pederson and Muncy had hit theirs.
Easily his biggest swing of the season gave the Rockies a 5-3 advantage, swinging a one-run deficit to a two-run lead.
Seunghwan Oh came on for the eighth and dominated the first two batters he faced, recording relatively easy strikeouts. But Matt Kemp hit a line drive into the gap in left-center and Cody Bellinger jumped on the first pitch he saw, blasting it over the high wall in right-center field and into the bullpen for a game-tying two-run home run.
After Oh walked Pederson, Bud Black decided to go to his closer Wade Davis with two outs in the eighth of a tie ballgame. Davis got Grandal to bounce out to second, ending the inning.
The bottom of the eighth saw Gonzalez loop a one-out single to left before Arenado just missed launching one out, instead getting just underneath the fastball and ending up with a deep flyout to center. But Story came up with another sinking liner just over the head of the first baseman into no-man’s land. With CarGo off on the pitch, it was a close call but Stu Cole elected not to send him home. The throw in from right was not a good one, though, and Dahl’s ensuing groundout to second makes it easier to question the decision to hold Gonzalez.
Davis stayed on for the ninth, something he has struggled to do in the past, and was greeted by Taylor crushing the first pitch of the inning into the front row in left-center, putting the Dodgers back on top. Yasiel Puig followed with a line drive single by a diving Story at short and Davis served up another long homer to Brian Dozier to give the Dodgers a very sudden 8-5 lead.
Davis has been scored upon in three of his four appearances in August for a total of eight runs.
Bryan Shaw came on to get three outs and give up a pair of singles but no runs, somehow making him the best reliever of the night for the Rockies.
Colorado went quietly in the bottom of the ninth for another tough bullpen loss.
Tyler Anderson: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
Scott Oberg: 1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Wade Davis: 0.1 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 0 BB
Bryan Shaw: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
Chris Iannetta: 2-for-3, 1 R, 3 RBI (HR: 8)
Nolan Arenado: 3-for-4, 1 R, 1 RBI
David Dahl: 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 BB
The second game of the series will see a battle of power righties. Jon Gray takes on Kenta Maeda with first pitch at 6:40.