Dodgers 5, Rockies 2
LOS ANGELES (AP)—No matter where Paul Lo Duca hits in the batting order, his approach at the plate remains the same.
Hitting cleanup Tuesday night, Lo Duca had three hits—including a bunt single—and three RBIs and Shawn Green went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies 5-2.
“I’m going to do whatever it takes. I’ve got to be myself and not try to do too much or I might get into a rut like I’ve been in,” Lo Duca said after raising his average to .306. “Hopefully, this will get me going.”
Green, who had 91 home runs over the previous two seasons, has only 11 homers and is hitting just .260. He’s been desperately trying to regain his stroke with the help of hitting coach Jack Clark, whose near-fatal motorcycle accident on the eve of the season opener affected Green deeply—from a personal as well as a professional standpoint.
“Nobody wants to do better than Shawn Green—trust me. I’m down there with him in the cage every day, and nobody’s more bothered by it,” Clark said. “All I know is that he keeps playing, he keeps trying, he keeps working, and that’s all you can do. It’s wearing on him more than us, believe me.”
Hideo Nomo (11-8) won for the fifth time in seven decisions, allowing two runs and six hits in seven innings and improving his career record against the Rockies to 8-2. One of the runs off him was unearned, the result of a fielding error by third baseman Adrian Beltre.
“When Nomo gets his split over, he’s going to beat anybody. He’s one of the few pitchers who can throw that pitch for strikes, and it’s a very effective pitch,” Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said.
“He’s a guy who’s going to challenge your discipline. You’ve got to make him get his fastball down, you’ve got to center it and you can’t take big swings. We took too many big swings at his fastball tonight and we popped up nine times.”
Eric Gagne pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 34th save this season and 42nd straight overall. Gagne has the second longest consecutive saves streak in major league history behind Tom Gordon, who converted 54 straight in 1998-99.
“He’s really grown and matured as a pitcher in the last year and a half,” Dodgers setup man Paul Quantrill said. “The more I watched him last year, it doesn’t surprise me at all that he’s doing what he’s doing again this year. He’s got the great heater that he spots, and he’s got a changeup that’s absolutely filthy.”
Jason Jennings (9-8) allowed four runs—two earned—and six hits over six innings after giving up seven earned runs and nine hits over four innings last Thursday in a loss at San Francisco. It was the second time this season that Jennings has lost consecutive starts—something that did not happen to him last year when he was 16-8 and NL rookie of the year.
“It’s a combination of the other teams making adjustments and him trying to make counter adjustments,” Hurdle said. “He’s still getting more flyball outs than we saw last year, so I don’t think he’s gotten quite the consistency with his sinker that he had last season.”
The Dodgers took a 2-1 lead with a pair of fourth-inning runs. Green doubled and scored on a single by Lo Duca, who advanced to third on Jeromy Burnitz’s single and came home on Beltre’s sacrifice fly.
The Dodgers added a pair of unearned runs in the fourth after third baseman Chris Stynes misplayed Rickey Henderson’s one-out grounder for an error. Henderson advanced to third on Alex Cora’s single before Lo Duca hit a two-out, two-run double inside third base for a 4-1 lead.
Green led off the eighth with his major league-leading 36th double, advanced on Lo Duca’s bunt hit and scored on Burnitz’s single.
Stynes got one of the runs back in the sixth with a bases-loaded RBI single, after Beltre failed to backhand Rene Reyes’ grounder behind third for his team-high 13th error. But Nomo minimized the damage by getting Bobby Estalellato ground into a double play two pitches later.
While Nomo warmed up for the fourth inning, the final out of his 1996 no-hitter at Coors Field was shown on the video board. The next batter, Reyes, lined a single to center for his first major league hit. … Jennings is 3-8 with a 5.38 ERA in his 14 road starts. He is 6-0 at home. … Reyes was called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Tuesday when LHP Denny Neagle was placed on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his elbow. … Lo Duca is10-for-23 against Jennings.