Andre Ethier ... two home runs
The Dodgers cut through the (Josh) Fogg early in the game, smashing three home runs in the first four innings and, behind the clutch pitching of Randy Wolf who won his ninth of the season, cooled the Rockies who had won eight of 10 and had moved to within two games of Los Angeles.
Andre Ethier, who has become the big man in the Dodgers offense, slugged a shot over the wall in right-center field in the first inning and another into almost the same place in the fourth to kicks-start the Dodgers offense. James Loney added a three run shot in the fourth to give Randy Wolf (9-6) all the runs he needed.
It was Ethier's six multihomer games this season and eighth in his career.
All three home runs came off Josh Fogg who was making only his second start of the season for manager Jim Tracy. He allowed six runs, all on home runs, and four hits and four walks in three-plus innings.
Wolf worked into the eighth inning before turning the game over to George Sherrill and Jonathan Broxton and the two made certain there would be no late-inning magic this night at Coors Field.
“I’m not really concerned about them,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said after the game. “I have a great deal of respect for them, but it’s all about how we play. If we’re in the last week of the season, last 10 days of the season, yes, you worry about that team. But right now we’ve got to get into a mode of playing more consistently and winning more games. That’s my concern more so than who’s running us down.”
Colorado had posted four straight come-from-behind wins, including a 5-4 victory in 10 innings over the Dodgers in the series opener and after trailing by 15 1/2 early in the season, they had fought back to trail by two.
But Wolf scattered five hits over 7.1 remarkably effective innings, walking two and striking out out five. The veteran left-handed was saddled with 12 no-decisions in his first 17 starts but he has nine decisions in his last 10 starts and has worked at least six innings in each of them. He has five wins in his last seven decisions and a 1.80 ERA in his last four.
Wolf is 7-4 with a 2.78 earned run average over 15 road starts this season and is holding opponents to a .225 average. It was his 99th career win against 84 losses and is 18-10 with Los Angeles.
Matt Kemp walked and Ethier homered in the first inning for his 26th long ball of the season. Ryan Spillsborghs ripped Wolf's change-up he had left in the middle of the plate deep into the left field seats to cut the lead to 2-1 in the third.
Ethier got the run back quickly with his 27th homer leading off the fourth. Fogg brushed Manny Ramirez with a pitch and Casey Blake walked to bring up James Loney who was in a 1-for-13 slump and hadn't an extra-base hit in his last 17 games.
Loney thrives on Colorado pitching. Five of his 40 home runs have come off the Rockies and after going 2-for-4 he's 37-for-103 (.359) lifetime at Coors Field with 37 RBIs in 27 games.
But he turned on an inside fastball and hit it long down the right field foul line and into the seats for his eighth of the season and his first in six weeks.
Russell Martin singled and Orlando Hudson walked and Tracy had seen enough of Fogg and called in Juan Rincon who stopped the Dodgers without a hit over the next four innings. Matt Herges gave up four harmless singles, two in each the eighth and ninth, but didn't allow a run.
Wolf retired 14 of the next 16 batters after the home run in the third inning and struck out the first Rockies in the eighth but allowed a single to D.Y. Young (Jr.) and Sherrill came in to close out the inning. Broxton gave up a single, a double play ball and a popup to Loney in the ninth.
Loney's home run was the only Dodgers hit with runners in scoring position and they finished 1-for-4, leaving three on base. Dodgers pitching held the Rockies to 0-for-2 with RISP.
“This is a big series for us, but you can’t lose sight that there’s a lot of season left,” Wolf said. “We haven’t played the best baseball in the past month and they’ve played great, but we can’t worry about them.”
Now, the Dodgers will leave Denver with either a two- or four-game lead on the Rockies, depending on the effectiveness of Vincente Padilla, who was released by Texas after the veteran had posted an 8-6 record with a 4.92 ERA in 18 starts. He is the 11th different pitcher to start for Torre this year and will replace Hiroki Kuroda, who is still coming back after getting hit on the hear with a line drive on August 15.
Ken Gurnick of MLB.com pointed out that the Dodgers have been very successful this year when they start pitchers other than Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Randy Wolf or Kuroda. Los Angeles is 20-12, a .625 winning percentage, much better than the top four starters. The extra starters have been Charlie Haeger, Eric Stults, Jeff Weaver, James McDonald, Eric Milton and Jason Schmidt.
Padilla isn't on the 40-man roster yet, and someone will have to be moved before game time.
Colorado will go with LHP Jorge De La Rosa (12-8, 4.76 ERA) who allowed a pair of two-run homers in six innings to the Giants but earned a win in a 14-11 game.
The contest will be a two-game swing, with Los Angeles flying off to meet the Cincinnati Reds with either a four games lead (with a win) or a two game lead (with a loss).
Score by Innings
Los Angeles 200 400 000-6
Colorado 001 000 000-1
Dodgers ab r h bi ave
Furcal ss 4 0 0 0 .253
Kemp cf 3 1 0 0 .310
Ethier f 4 2 3 3 .290
Ramirez lf 2 1 1 0 .307
Broxton p 0 0 0 0 .000
Blake 3b 3 1 0 0 .280
Loney 1b 4 1 2 3 .276
Martin c 4 0 1 0 .257
Hudson 2b 4 0 1 0 .290
Wolf p 3 0 0 0 .196
Sherrill p 0 0 0 0 .000
Pierre ph-lf 1 0 0 0 .321
Totals 31 6 8 6
Colorado 31 1 6 1
HR- Ethier 2 (27), Loney (8).
RBI- Ethier 3 (87), Loney 3 (74).
LOB- Los Angeles 3, Colorado 5.
CS- Ramirez (1). DP- Hudson, Furcal
Dodgers in h r-er bb so era
Wolf (9-6) 7.1 5 1-1 2 5 3.25
Sherrill 0.2 0 0-0 0 0 0.00
Broxton 1.0 1 0-0 0 0 2.90
HBP- Ramirez. T- 2:46. Att- 38,350.
The Boston Herald reported that veteran right-handed Brad Penny requested and received his release, allowing a roster spot for newly acquired reliever Billy Wagner. "I asked for my release and I got it," Penny told The Herald.
Penny was 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA in 24 starts this season for Boston, the last of which was a four-inning, eight-run outing against the Yankees. Penny expressed gratitude toward the Red Sox for signing him to a one-year, $5 million contract last offseason after an injury-plagued 2008 season with the Dodgers.
Is signed by another club sign with another team before the end of August, the two-time all-star will be eligible to appear on a postseason roster.
Dodger Blue Notes-- The Dodgers have taken 11 of 14 games from the Rockies this season, including a 6-2 mark at Coors Field. Removing the head-to-head record, Colorado would be leading the Dodgers in the N.L. West Division race. ...Los Angeles boosted their best record in the National League at 75-52, and is off to its best 126-game start since 1985. ...Clayton Kershaw allowed a two-run homer to Brad Hawpe in the first game of the series, which snapped his streak of 15 consecutive starts without allowing a homer, the longest such streak by a Dodgers pitcher since the team moved to Los Angeles in 1958. ...On this date in 1939, the Dodgers played the Reds in the first baseball game ever televised. Hall of Famer Red Barber called the game from Ebbets Field and it was the first game of a doubleheader.