DENVER (AP) – The Los Angeles Dodgers are reaping the benefits from the most productive run of Ricky Nolasco’s career.
Nolasco pitched six strong innings, Carl Crawford had a two-run single among three hits to spark the offense in the absence of injured catalyst Yasiel Puig, and the NL West-leading Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies 7-4 on Tuesday night for their sixth straight win.
“Being in this chase right now, to be able to pitch my best, at this time, is big for me and for the team,” Nolasco said.
Nolasco (12-9) allowed two runs and five hits in improving to 7-1 with a 2.27 ERA in his 11 starts since coming to the Dodgers on July 6 in a trade with Miami. He struck out five and walked one.
“He’s been great because he’s pitched well pretty much every time out,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s kind of solidified that fourth guy for us and that’s where we had been searching. Ricky came in and basically gave us another guy.”
Nolasco kept the Rockies off balance by pitching inside with his fastball and then mixing in his slider.
“The ball would be there and it dropped at the last second. It had late movement,” the Rockies’ Nolan Arenado said. “I would say he is a pretty darn good pitcher.”
The Dodgers’ deep pitching staff has been complemented by the team’s depth among position players, which was tested again in the absence of Puig, who was rested a day after aggravating a right knee strain. He remains day to day.
Crawford went 3 for 5 and Nick Punto added four singles to help bolster the offense.
“We have tons of talent in this room,” Nolasco said. “Veterans, young guys, to be able to give a couple guys breathers and have other guys step up is huge. Everybody comes in ready to play and when you have depth like that, it’s huge for the team.”
Jhoulys Chacin (13-8) allowed four runs in seven innings in losing to the Dodgers for the first time in four starts this season.
Down two runs, the Rockies pulled within one when pinch-hitter Josh Rutledge, batting for Carlos Gonzalez, led off the eighth with a drive off reliever Paco Rodriguez that reached the bleachers in left. Rodriguez walked Dexter Fowler and was relieved by Ronald Belisario.
After D.J. LeMahieu sacrificed, Belisario got Troy Tulowitzki to line out to short and Fowler was doubled off second when he was caught off the bag.
The Dodgers came back to load the bases with two outs in the ninth against reliever Rex Brothers. Mark Ellis hit a fly ball that kicked off the glove of retreating left fielder Charlie Culberson for an error leading to three unearned runs.
“I was expecting to be closer to the ball,” Culberson said. “I got there quicker than expected and missed it.”
Chris Withrow got the final out for his first save.
The Dodgers opened a 3-0 lead in the second, loading the bases on Andre Ethier’s double, Ellis’ walk and Skip Schumaker’s infield single. Tim Federowicz drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly and after Nolasco moved the runners up with another sacrifice, Crawford came through with a two-run single to left.
Adrian Gonzalez put the Dodgers up 4-0 with a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
Nolasco had allowed only one hit before Charlie Blackmon doubled with two outs in the fifth. Chacin followed with an RBI single to right.
The Rockies pulled within two after LeMahieu doubled to start the sixth, took third when left fielder Crawford bobbled LeMahieu’s liner for an error and scored on Tulowitzki’s groundout.
NOTES: Crawford has had multiple hits in four straight games. … The Rockies have activated Gonzalez from the DL but his availability remains limited because of lingering soreness in a joint of his right middle finger. He entered in the eighth as a defensive replacement but was lifted in the bottom of the inning for Rutledge as a precaution against hurting the finger by swinging the bat. … With active rosters expanded, the Rockies also recalled from the minors pitchers Mitchell Boggs, Manuel Corpas and Collin McHugh and infielder/outfielder Ryan Wheeler. … OF Matt Kemp, on the DL since July 22 with a left ankle sprain, traveled to the Dodgers’ complex in Arizona to get in some concentrated hitting work in a series of simulated games over the next several days. … Edinson Volquez (9-10) is set to make his first start for the Dodgers since they signed him following his release late last month by San Diego. He will be opposed by Jorge De La Rosa (15-6).
– By DENNIS GEORGATOS, Associated Press
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