The Dodgers had built a solid lead in the N.L. West during the first half of the season by lying dormant until the late innings and then snatching a win away from the unsuspecting opponent.
Now as the season moves into the final weeks, the Rockies are the ones wining with a late rally and they did it again in the first game of the series, with a walkoff single off reliever James McDonald in the 10th.
One night after a grand slam topped the Giants in the bottom of the 14th inning, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki's bases-loaded single gave Colorado, who trailed by 15 1/2 games on June 3, a 5-4 win and slice the Dodgers' rapidly evaporating lead to just two games in the first game of an important three game series.
br> "We feel them coming. That is a good team," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "They keep playing. That's what you want a team to do is keep playing. They are very dangerous because they keep coming at you. "They hustle all the time and they play fundamentally sound baseball. If you do that and believe, some good things will happen. That is a key at this time of the year."
The Rockies have won their past four, eight of the past nine and 18 of the past 25. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have been a .500 team since June 21.
Colorado (72-54), led by former Dodgers manager Jim Tracy who was shoved aside when the Dodgers had a chance to sign Joe Torre, moved 18 games over .500 for the first time in their history, topping the 90-73 mark they had after beating San Diego in the one-game playoff on their way to the 2007 NL pennant. They are a major league-best 52-22 since June 3, when they were a season-worst 12 games under .500.
McDonald (3-3), the fourth Dodger reliever, walked Ian Stewart leading off the 10th before Carlos Gonzalez, who had a badly lacerated hand and could not swing the bat, bunted his way aboard. McDonald over-ran the ball and James Loney picked it up and tossed it to Orlando Hudson. The throw looked good but Hudson could not catch it and Stewart moved to third on the error, which was given to Loney.
After a strikeout and an intentional walk to Todd Helton, Tulowitzki ripped the game-winning single to center field.
Clayton Kershaw and Jason Hammel tangled over the first seven innings with each allowing a pair of runs. Kershaw gave up just four hits before leaving with his full quota of pitches (104). Kershaw is now winless in its past seven starts, five of them no-decisions.
Ron Belisario allowed the tie-breaking run in the seventh and Hong-Chih Kuo allowed another in the eighth.
Andre Ethier singled in the first run of the game in the opening inning after Matt Kemp had singled and had stolen second base. Casey Blake homered in the fourth inning, his 16th of the season, but Colorado bounced back on Brad Hawpe's 18th, in the bottom of the inning. Clint Barmes' 20th homer came off Belisario in the seventh, and the Rockies added a run in the eighth on Tulowitzki's RBI double off Kuo.
Trailing 4-2 in the ninth, pinch-hitter Juan Pierre opened by dropping a single into short center and Rafael Furcal doubled. Kemp's sac fly scored on before Ethier struck out. Ramirez's looping single tied the game and Loney was save on an error. Blake was intentionally walked before Russell Martin flew to center to end the inning and leave the bases loaded.
Troncoso pitched around a single in the last of the ninth, Herges got Hudson and Furcal on ground balls and struck out pinch-hitter Mark Loretta in the 10th. Then Tulowitzki became the hero of the day.
The Dodgers out-hit the Rockies 12-10 but, again, squandered baserunners in nearly every inning. L.A. finished 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left an even dozen hanging.
However, Dodgers players are not worrying.
James Loney: "I don't look at the standings. I don't hear anybody in here talking about it."
Russell Martin: "I don't see anything different from early in the season. We just go out and keep playing our game. That's the key. There's still a lot of baseball left. Our lead doesn't mean anything right now. We've just got to win ballgames. We don't want to feel we're playing to keep our lead. We're playing to add to our lead."
Clayton Kershaw: "Even when we didn't play well we ended up winning like they are. They are playing with a lot of confidence right now. The first 90 games, that's what we were doing."
Andre Ethier: Everyone knows what's going on. I've never been a big scoreboard watcher. You play it out and whatever happens, happens. You can't say you play harder because it's a race or you're not playing as hard because you're out of the race."
Tonight the Dodgers turn to Randy Wolf (8-6, 3.34 ERA) who's on a three-game win streak and is 4-2 lifetime against the Rockies. The Dodgers are 17-10 in his starts and he's 3-0 with a 1.99 ERA in his past three starts.
RHP Josh Fogg (0-1, 2.25 ERA) replaces Aaron Cook who is on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder, Fogg gets his first start of the season after being the long man out of the bullpen for the Rockies since coming up in late May, and he has allowed more than one earned run only once in 20 appearances this season and is holding opposing hitters to a .186 average, the best mark among Rockies relievers.
Score by Innings Los Angeles 100 100 112 0-4 Colorado 000 200 110 1-5 Dodgers ab r h bi ave Furcal ss 6 1 1 0 .255 Kemp cf 4 1 1 1 .312 Ethier rf 4 0 3 1 .286 Ramirez lf 4 0 2 1 .306 Loney 1b 5 0 0 0 .274 Blake 3b 4 1 2 1 .282 Martin c 5 0 1 0 .258 Hudson 2b 5 0 1 0 .290 Kershaw p 3 0 0 0 .095 Belisario p 0 0 0 0 .000 Kuo p 0 0 0 0 .000 Pierre ph 1 1 1 0 .322 Troncoso p 0 0 0 0 .000 Loretta ph 1 0 0 0 .222 McDonald p 0 0 0 0 .000 ---------------------------------- Totals 42 4 12 4 Colorado 36 5 10 5 Error- Loney (5). 2B- Ethier (33), Furcal (20). HR- Blake (16). RBI- Ethier (84), Blake (70), Kemp (78), Ramirez (46). SF- Kemp. LOB Los Angeles 12, Colorado 7. SB- SB- Kemp (27). Pickoff- Kershaw. Dodgers in h r-er bb so era Kershaw 6.1 4 2-2 1 6 2.96 Belisario 0.2 1 1-1 0 0 2.30 Kuo 1.0 2 1-1 1 1 3.78 Troncoso 1.0 1 0-0 0 1 2.69 McDonald (3-3) 0.1 2 0-0 2 1 4.20 WP- Kershaw. T- 3:20. Att- 31,472.