And he hasn’t disappointed.
“It’s just a terrific job again by that young kid,” Tracy said. “Obviously, we got things started correctly for him in the first. One of the things you concern yourself about with a young kid is when you stake him to a real nice lead like we did, how is he going to handle that? Is he going to get a little too excited and try to hurry his way through this thing? But he kept himself completely under control and showed some composure and poise.”
Ian Stewart(notes) hit a two-run homer and RBI single among his three hits. Carlos Gonzales had a three-run double in support of Chacin (2-0), who has filled in brilliantly while Jorge De La Rosa(notes) and Jason Hammel(notes) have been on the disabled list.
“I’ve just been doing what they told me—try to throw my fastball for a strike and get ahead in the count. And I’ve been successful with that,” Chacin said. “I have more experience now and my pitches are good. I think if I keep throwing strikes I will be fine.”
The 22-year-old right-hander scattered six hits over 7 1-3 innings, struck out seven and walked two. Last Sunday, he beat the Giants 4-1 at San Francisco with seven innings of one-hit ball for his first big league victory.
“This kid’s capable of winning a lot for us right now,” Tracy said. “I really believe he got the message we sent him last year: If you want to be a big leaguer fairly quickly and remain one for the rest of your career, get your fastball back and get it over the plate like you did a couple of years ago when you won 18 games between two spots in the minor leagues.”
Andre Ethier(notes) was 3 for 3, increasing his major league-leading average to .394. But the only other hit the Dodgers got off Chacin during the first seven innings was a single by Russell Martin(notes).
“He was throwing strikes and staying ahead of guys,” Blake DeWitt(notes) said. “He had all of his pitches working and he had good off-speed stuff. In this league, you’re going to be facing tough guys every night. That’s just part of it.”
Haeger (0-4) lasted only 22 pitches—14 balls—and did not retire any of the five batters he faced. All of them scored, raising the right-hander’s ERA to 8.49.
Seth Smith(notes) opened the game with a single and the next three batters walked, including Troy Tulowitzki(notes) on four pitches to force in a run. Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt went to the mound for a few words with Haeger, who got ahead of Gonzalez 1-2 before the Rockies’ RBIs leader lined a triple inside first base to increase his season total to 25. Gonzalez has 18 in his last 11 games.
Manager Joe Torre yanked Haeger and brought in Ramon Ortiz(notes), who promptly gave up Stewart’s sixth homer. The Rockies have only two home runs in their last eight games, including Stewart’s 12th-inning solo shot in Wednesday’s 6-5 win at San Diego.
Haeger became the first Dodgers pitcher to start a game and not record an out since Aug. 8, 1988, at Houston, when right-hander Shawn Hillegas was pulled by Tommy Lasorda after four batters.
“It was just one of those things where I couldn’t find the zone, and as a result, you’re going to get hurt,” Haeger said. “I’ve pitched a lot of games in my life, where, being a knuckleballer, every once in a while you don’t have it in the first inning. So I understand the hook. You let the first five guys reach base and you’re down 4-0 with nobody out, maybe it’s time to make a change.”
NOTES: Haeger’s only other appearance against the Rockies was a relief outing with San Diego on Sept. 16, 2008, at Coors Field, when he gave up a grand slam to Chris Iannetta(notes) after walking the previous three batters. Iannetta was optioned to Triple-A on April 27. … Colorado 1B Todd Helton(notes), whose 38 career home runs against the Dodgers are the most he’s had against any team, hasn’t hit one against them in 81 at-bats since his solo shot against Brad Penny(notes) at Coors Field on May 2, 2008.
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