Rockies 6, Dodgers 3
LOS ANGELES (AP)—The Colorado Rockies have been mostly known over the years for hitting the long ball, scoring a lot of runs and losing.
Now, the Rockies have speedsters at the top of the lineup, and their pitching staff appears to be more of a strength than a weakness. They hope their new approach translates into a winning season for the first time since 2000— and perhaps more.
Jeff Francis allowed two runs in 6 2-3 innings, Willy Taveras and Kaz Matsui each scored runs thanks to their speed, and the Rockies beat Los Angeles 6-3 Monday to snap the Dodgers’ four-game winning streak and spoil their home opener.
“They’ve done a fantastic job—I don’t think you could have asked for anything more,” Atkins said regarding the Rockies’ starting rotation. “They keep it up, I think we’ll be right there.”
As far as Taveras and Matsui are concerned, Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said: “It’s the fastest first two hitters we’ve had since I’ve been here, and I’ve been here since ’97. I’d stick my neck out and say it’s the most speed up there in Rockies history.”
The Dodgers were able to breathe a sigh of relief afterward since two players who had to leave the game because of injuries shouldn’t be sidelined for very long.
Jason Schmidt (1-1), making his second start for the Dodgers after signing a three-year, $47 million contract in December, left in the fifth with tightness in his right hamstring.
“It’s OK. It’s definitely not a hamstring pull,” he said. “I just got dehydrated out there and got a little cramp in it.”
Right fielder Matt Kemp came out in the fourth with a sore right shoulder after banging into the auxiliary scoreboard trying to catch Baker’s triple. X-rays on Kemp’s shoulder were negative, and he said he doesn’t believe he’ll be out for more than a couple days.
“At first I thought it was worse than what it was,” Kemp said. “It hurt really bad when I was walking off the field. I thought I was done. But everything will be all right.”
The Dodgers loaded the bases with none out in the ninth against Brian Fuentes, but scored only once on Pierre’s sacrifice fly before Martin flied to center to end the game.
Matsui opened the fifth by hitting a grounder to first baseman Nomar Garciaparra, who juggled the ball and threw late to Schmidt covering first. Schmidt grabbed at his hamstring after taking the throw.
Schmidt walked off the field after a brief delay and was relieved by Mark Hendrickson. Schmidt allowed four runs—three earned—and seven hits with no walks and six strikeouts.
Matsui then stole second, took third on catcher Martin’s throwing error and scored on Atkins’ first sacrifice fly.
Taveras hit a routine grounder to shortstop to open the ninth, but beat Wilson Valdez’s throw to first. Joe Beimel committed a balk before Matsui sacrificed Taveras to third, and Atkins followed with his second sacrifice fly, making it 6-2.
Atkins, who hit 29 homers and drove in 120 runs last season, hit a 1-0 pitch into the left field bullpen with two outs in the first to give the Rockies a 1-0 lead. The Dodgers tied it in the third when Schmidt homered—the first for a Los Angeles pitcher since Kaz Ishii hit one on July 31, 2004, and the seventh of Schmidt’s career.
The Rockies scored two runs in the fourth on Baker’s triple and a run-scoring infield hit by Troy Tulowitzki. Ramon Martinez hit a two-out RBI double off left fielder Matt Holliday’s glove in the bottom half to cut it to 3-2.
The game was played before an announced crowd of 56,000, equaling the largest in Dodger Stadium history. … Former Dodgers 2B Steve Sax threw out the ceremonial first pitch in recognition of the 25th anniversary of his NL Rookie of the Year season in 1982. … Helton wasn’t in the lineup for the first time this season. Hurdle said a list of days off for Helton was drawn up during the offseason. Helton was used as a pinch hitter in the eighth and grounded out. … Dodgers 2B Jeff Kent singled in the first, giving him a seven-game hitting streak this season and a 12-game streak dating to last year. … The Rockies were 18-45 at Dodger Stadium the past seven years including 2-8 last season.