Dodgers 9, Rockies 3
DENVER (AP)—Pitching at Coors Field is never easy.
Add in high temperatures and strong winds, and it’s downright nasty.
Wilson Alvarez took advantage of Jolbert Cabrera’s three-run double in the first inning and overcame some shaky moments for his first win in over a year as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies 9-3 Sunday.
“It’s hard to pitch in this place,” said Alvarez, who won for the first time since last June 28 against Florida while with Tampa Bay.
“After that ball (in the fifth inning) started out in left field and started going into the stands, I said ‘my God.”’
The gametime temperature of 97 matched the highest ever for a game in Denver and a hard wind blowing in from left field in the fifth inning made things even worse for pitchers on both sides.
Rockies starter Denny Neagle (2-3), who struggled in his previous two outings, had his trouble right off the bat.
Cesar Izturis hit Neagle’s first pitch to the gap in right-center for a triple, then Alex Cora sent the next one to the same area for a run-scoring double. Shawn Green made it 2-0 two pitches later with a double down the line in left that led to boos from the home crowd.
Adrian Beltre followed with a single before David Ross, the eighth batter in the inning, struck out looking for the first out. Alvarez grounded into a fielder’s choice and Izturis flew out to end the inning.
Neagle settled in after that, allowing two hits over the next three innings, but was lifted in the fourth for pinch-hitter Mark Bellhorn.
“His command in the first inning hasn’t been good and to spot their pitching staff five runs in the first inning is a tough task,” said Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, whose team had a four-game winning streak end.
Alvarez’s woes began in the fourth inning, when he started having trouble breathing in the heat and altitude.
He gave up a leadoff double to Helton and Larry Walker followed a one-out single. Charles Johnson drove in Colorado’s first run with a sacrifice fly after Payton walked, then Alvarez walked Juan Uribe and Bellhorn to make it 5-2.
Alvarez got out of the inning by striking out Ronnie Belliard.
“I wasn’t tired physically. I was having a hard time breathing,” said Alvarez, who allowed three runs on five hits in five innings. “I was thinking about that instead of throwing the ball.”
The fifth inning wasn’t any easier after strong winds sent dust and balls flying everywhere.
Chris Stynes led off with what appeared to be a homer to left, but the wind knocked it down short of the wall for an out.
Helton followed with what looked like a lazy flyball—left fielder Paul Lo Duca started to camp under it—but the ball drifted toward the stands. Instead of an easy out, the ball bounced foul into the stands and Lo Duca wound up getting hurt sliding into the wall.
Lo Duca remained in the game after being checked out by the Dodgers trainer and Helton took advantage of his second chance on the next pitch, lifting it out to right for his 21st homer to cut the lead to 5-3.
But the wind wasn’t through.
Preston Wilson followed Helton’s shot with what looked like another homer, but the ball held up and fell just short of the wall in center for an out.
The inning ended with third baseman Adrian Beltre leaning into the stands after a popup by Payton drifted in the wind.
“I saw the wind blowing and I tried to start throwing the ball inside to Helton,” Alvarez said. “I’ve got to tip my hat to that guy. He can hit.”
Helton’s homer was his fourth in three games and seventh in four games against the Dodgers. He was 2-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 10 and has 125 hits, one more than Dante Bichette’s 1998 team record for most before the All-Star break.
“I have seen the ball better,” said Helton, who has hit safely in 27 of the past 28 games. “I am swinging the bat pretty good right now”
Dodgers reliever Guillermo Mota made it 6-3 in the seventh inning with his second career homer—first this season.
Los Angeles added three runs in the ninth inning on a run-scoring double by Izturis, consecutive hit batters by Brian Fuentes and a double play grounder byLo Duca to win for just the fourth time in 16 games.
Colorado plays 14 of its first 17 games after the All-Star break on the road. … Dodgers RHP Paul Quantrill made his 665th career appearance, passing Ferguson Jenkins for most by a Canadian pitcher. … The Rockies traded C-OF Ben Petrick to Detroit for RHP Adam Bernero before the game. … Mota’s other homer was June 9, 1999, against Boston in his first career at-bat withMontreal.