James Loney singled home the winning run in the 10th inning and the Dodgers beat the Rockies 3-2 on Sunday, sending Colorado to its seventh loss in eight games.
The Rockies had won the final seven meetings between the teams last season, including a four-game sweep at Coors Field during a 14-1 finishing kick that earned them a wild-card berth and catapulted them into the playoffs.
“Anytime you can sweep a team at home, it’s always a positive,” Dodgers center fielder Andruw Jones said. “We’ve been struggling a little bit to score runs today, but we came out here and took advantage when those guys made some mistakes and we managed to sneak in a win.”
It’s the first three-game winning streak of the season for the Dodgers under new manager Joe Torre, who used his 24th different lineup in 25 games as he continues to search for a consistent combination.
Los Angeles has had six different managers since winning the 1988 World Series under Tommy Lasorda, and has won only one postseason game since then. So turning this team into a pennant contender remains a daily challenge for Torre, who made the playoffs in each of the last 12 seasons with the New York Yankees.
“You’re never going to find the combination that you’re going to put out there day in and day out,” Torre said. “The fact that we can bat so many of our guys second or seventh is just the versatility of the type of players we have, so I’m not really searching for something that you can sort of phone in every day.”
It was the fifth extra-inning game this season for the Rockies, including a 22-inning win at San Diego on April 17, and a 13-inning loss to the Dodgers on Friday night.
“We didn’t come in here thinking we were going to get swept,” reliever Matt Herges said. “It’s a tad demoralizing, but there’s no one in here who’s going to hang their head. I think we were worse at this time last year, so nobody’s panicking.”
The Rockies’ actually have the same 10-15 record they had last season after 25 games. The pitching staff on Monday night will break the franchise record for most innings worked in April, which was set in 1998 with 240.
“I can’t speak for the starters, but in the bullpen, I think we’re still pretty fresh,” Herges said. “I mean, we played a 22-inning game, for goodness sakes, and that taxed us bad. We weathered it, but losing these extra-inning games is tough, especially on the road.”
Manny Corpas (0-2) walked Rafael Furcal and pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney to open the 10th. Both runners advanced on Matt Kemp’s sacrifice bunt, and Loney grounded a 1-0 pitch through the right side of the infield to end it.
The Rockies had a great chance to take the lead in the eighth, but Troy Tulowitzki grounded into an inning-ending double play started by Furcal. That made the Rockies 2-for-16 in bases-loaded situations.
Herges relieved Colorado starter Jeff Francis after seven innings and gave up singles by Kemp and Martin with none out. The former Dodgers right-hander then turned Loney’s comebacker into a 1-6-3 double play and struck out Jones to strand Kemp at third.
Less than 24 hours after putting up a 10-run first inning against left-hander Mark Redman—capped by Kemp’s first career grand slam—Los Angeles came up empty in the first against Francis as Jones flied out with the bases loaded. But the Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in the fourth.
Blake DeWitt hit his first big-league triple with two out. Dodgers pitcher Esteban Loaiza drove him in with a single to right after an intentional walk to Chin-Lung Hu, and Furcal drove in Loaiza with a bloop single to center.
Loaiza threw 70 pitches in his first start since April 7, allowing two runs and five hits with a walk and a strikeout.
Francis allowed two runs and five hits over seven innings, striking out six and walking three. He remained winless this season in five starts after winning 17 games last season.
Umpire Kerwin Danley was released from a hospital early Sunday morning, about 5 hours after he took a 96 mph fastball to the right side of his jaw— briefly losing consciousness when the pitch from Dodgers right-hander Brad Penny hit his face mask. … Mitch Muchlinski, in his fourth year as a vacation replacement ump, was at first base. Regular crew chief Charlie Relaford, who was on vacation this week while Angel Campos filled in for him, will fly into Anaheim on Monday and rejoin his colleagues for the start of the Angels-Oakland series. … Francis pitched his first day game of the season. He was 8-0 with a 2.48 ERA in nine starts under the natural light last year.