Excellent starting pitching has certainly helped, but the most encouraging part of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ winning streak has been clutch hitting.
One of the majors’ worst teams with runners in scoring position has suddenly broken out in its past two wins. The Dodgers hope to keep the momentum going Tuesday night against the reeling Colorado Rockies.
Los Angeles has the majors’ sixth-best ERA (3.24) since May 8, but is just 10-11 during that stretch as only three teams have scored fewer runs.
The Dodgers’ biggest problem all season has been an inability to get hits when they count, as manager Don Mattingly’s club entered Sunday’s game against Florida with a major league-worst .211 average with runners in scoring position.
They had 5 hits in 15 RBI situations Sunday, backing Clayton Kershaw’s(notes) dominant performance in an 8-0 win, and were even more efficient Monday. Los Angeles went 4 for 4 with runners in scoring position in the series opener, riding three RBIs apiece from Andre Ethier(notes) and James Loney(notes) to a 7-1 victory over Colorado.
The Dodgers (25-30) had been 9 for 57 with runners in scoring position over their previous eight games.
“We know we’re a good hitting team,” Loney said. “You got to put together big hits at the right time. It’s been tough for us to not do as well as the pitching has been.”
The right-hander gave up two in seven such at-bats Thursday against Arizona, though, and one was particularly costly. A three-run homer to Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero(notes) in the fourth proved the key blow in a 6-3 loss.
Mortensen, who gave up four runs over six innings, was quickest to blame the two walks that preceded Montero’s blast.
“You can’t lead off an inning with two walks,” said the 26-year-old rookie, who has yet to face the Dodgers. “There were 10 consecutive balls. It doesn’t work.”
Nothing has been working lately for the Rockies (25-28), who have lost nine of 11 despite only being outscored by six runs in that span. They’d been batting .333 with runners in scoring position during that stretch until going 1 for 12 on Monday.
Four of Los Angeles’ last five starting pitchers have allowed either one run or none.
That streak that began Wednesday with Ted Lilly(notes) (3-4, 4.41), who will take the mound again for this matchup. The left-hander threw six innings, allowing his only run on a Michael Bourn(notes) homer to lead off the first, but left without a decision as the Dodgers fell 2-1 in Houston.
“He was sharp,” Mattingly said. “He seemed to be doing the things we wanted him to do. In this league, you have to score a run, and that’s where we are at.”
Lilly has had some recent success - and one big blemish - against the Rockies. He gave up one run and six hits over 17 innings in two victories versus Colorado last season, but surrendered seven runs in four innings of a 10-5 loss at Coors Field on Aug. 29.