Picked up to back up a mentor Russell Martin (Ausmus, 39) and serve as an infield backup and pinch-hitter (Loretta, 37), the two veterans have combined for 32 years of Major League experience and between them they scored and knocked in the tying run in the eighth and knocked in the winning run in the ninth.
Ausmus, a 17-year veteran who is now hitting .417 in a limited role, doubled and scored the tying run on Loretta's pinch-single in the eighth and Loretta scored on a wild pitch. Ausmus' two-out single in the ninth inning drove in Loney, who had doubled, and gave L.A. a 6-5 win over Colorado and a West Division-leading 12-5 record.
Stults had his string of two straight wins interrupted by the no decision and left the game in a 3-3 tie. Since taking over for the injured Hiroki Kuroda, the Dodgers have won all three of Stults' starts.
The Dodgers struggled with runners on base, leaving 11. Nine were left stranded in the first four innings, including three in the first inning.
Ausmus was catching only because Martin struggles against Rockies starter Aaron Cook (he 1-for-18). He lined a pitch past diving third baseman Garrett Atkins in the ninth, scoring James Loney, who had led off the inning with a double off Manny Corpas (0-1).
The Dodgers' backup catcher also started a rally in the eighth with a two-out double to deep center. Mark Loretta followed with a flair that dropped into shallow left, scoring Ausmus. Loretta's now 4-for-6 with a walk this season in as a pinch-hitter.
The two clubs had the crown on their feet much of the evening as Colorado erased a 2-0 first inning lead to score three times. L.A. then tied the game and went in front 5-3 only to have the Rox drive across two in the eighth to tie it again.
The game came down to the final pitch by closer Jonathan Broxton who, made 30 pitches the night before in Houston. He overcame a walk and an Orlando Hudson error in the ninth, striking out the last two batters with runners at first and second for his sixth save, hitting 100 regularly on the gun.
For the third straight game, the Dodgers scored in the first inning and left a number of bodies on the bases. Rafael Furcal, Hudson and Manny Ramirez singled to lead off the game for a 1-0 margin. Andre Ethier single to make it 2-0 and James Loney walked to load the bases. But Kemp bounced into a force at the plate and Casey Blake hit into a double play. The two were each 0-for-5 in the game, Kemp leaving seven runners on and Blake leaving nine.
Colorado tapped Stults for single runs in the first, third and fourth to take a 3-2 lead by Hudson and Ramirez singled to lead off the fifth and Ethier's double tied the game. Loney was intentionally walked before Kemp and Blake struck out and Ausmus grounded into a fielder's choice.
Reliever Ronald Belisario, who has filled in for the injured Cory Wade after having never pitched higher than Double-A, bounced back from a tough outing in Houston to record a pair of hitless innings before turning the game over to Hong-Chih Kuo.
Los Angeles had scored twice in the eighth on Loretta's RBI pinch hit and a wild pitch but trailing 5-3, Colorado came back in the bottom of the inning off Kuo. Chris Iannetta singled and Clint Barmes slammed a game-tying pinch-hit homer to deep left.
Ironically enough, Kuo (1-0) earned the win when Ausmus worked his two-out magic in the ninth. Kuo was hitting 95 on the speed gun and Torre had no complaints other than the results.
"He threw the ball really well," said Torre. "That's as good as he's been this year. I know the result wasn't good, but that was his best fastball." And Ausmus added, "Kuo had great stuff, he really did. It kind of befuddles you, their scoring two runs. If he pitches like that all year, we'll be in great shape in the eighth inning."
In the second game of the series tonight, the Dodgers send RHP James McDonald (0-1, 5.87 ERA) to the mound after he worked McDonald tossed 4.1 scoreless innings against Colorado on Sunday. McDonald allowed four hits and walked three while striking out two. He will oppose RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (1-2, 6.00 ERA) who has had two consecutive tough starts since his season debut in which he pitched seven scoreless innings and struck out eight.
Score by innings Los Angeles 200 010 021-6 Colorado 101 100 020-5 Los Angeles ab r h bi ave Furcal ss 5 1 2 0 .265 Hudson 2b 3 2 1 0 .382 Ramirez lf 4 0 2 1 .356 Ethier rf 3 1 2 2 .311 Loney 1b 3 1 2 0 .281 Kemp cf 5 0 0 0 .333 Blake 3b 5 0 0 0 .218 Ausmus c 5 1 2 1 .417 Stults p 0 0 0 0 .000 Pierre ph 1 0 0 0 .273 Belisario p 0 0 0 0 .000 Loretta ph 1 1 1 1 .500 Kuo p 0 0 0 0 .000 Broxton p 0 0 0 0 .000 Totals 36 6 12 5 Rockies 35 5 9 5 Error- Hudson (1). To-base hits- Ethier (5), Ausmus (1) Loney (3) RBI- Ramirez (13), Ethier 2 (19), Loretta (2), Ausmus (2). CS- Loney. LOB- Los Angeles 11, Colorado 12. DP- Loney, Furcal and Stults. Los Angeles in h r-er bb so era Stults 5.0 7 3-3 5 3 3.52 Belisario 2.0 0 0-0 2 1 2.84 Kuo (1-0) 1.0 2 2-2 0 0 8.31 Broxton (sv 6) 1.0 0 0-0 1 2 0.96 Wp- Kuo. HBP- by Kuo. T- 3:45. Att- 36,151.Dodger Blue Notes --Orlando Hudson singled to extend his hitting streak to 10 games Friday and also walked twice and scored two runs. ... Ramirez has a seven-game hitting streak and is 8-for-16 against Colorado this year. ...James Loney, who apparently loves Rockies pitching, doubled and scored the winning run Friday, as well as singled and walked twice. ... Kuo suffered his first blown save Friday, but also was credited with his first victory of the year. His ERA is 8.31. ...Broxton has 15 strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings and a 0.96 ERA. ...