Lilly bests Jimenez in LA’s 3-1 win over Rockies
Lilly scattered four hits over eight innings Monday night in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 3-1 win over the reeling Rockies, who are five games behind idle San Francisco in the NL West and 4 1/2 games behind wild card-leading Atlanta with just six games remaining.
Just a week and a-half ago, the Rockies were within a game of first place and looked primed for another playoff run behind Jimenez and the 1-2 punch of Gonzalez and fellow MVP contender Troy Tulowitzki(notes).
Now, they’ve lost seven of eight, and an offseason of uncertainty looms ever closer.
“It’s just tough to lose, especially when you have Ubaldo on the mound. You want to be able to score some runs for him,” Gonzalez said. “He just had a tough first inning and after that he battled the whole game. He pitched great.”
Dodgers manager Joe Torre doesn’t relish the role of spoiler but that’s all the Dodgers have left in their skipper’s final week at the helm of a team that also underachieved thanks to injuries and inconsistency. Los Angeles needs to win all its remaining games to avoid the team’s first losing season since 2005.
“The only satisfaction is we’re doing our job,” Torre said. “It’s not much of a role for us, but it’s something that at least makes what we’re doing important.”
Casey Blake(notes) went 3 for 4 with two doubles, two RBIs and scored Los Angeles’ other run. His biggest hit struck Jimenez in the right foot and ricocheted over shortstop Tulowitzki’s head for a two-run single in the first inning before Jimenez settled down and threw six straight zeros on the scoreboard.
Blake said he normally gets jumpy against a hard-throwing ace like Jimenez “to cheat the fastball” but not on this night, when he was calm and confident in the face of 98 mph heaters.
“I didn’t feel like he could throw his fastball by me, and as a hitter that’s a great feeling to have,” he said.
Jimenez (19-8) has one more start, at St. Louis next weekend, to try to become the franchise’s first 20-game winner.
“Hopefully, I get it,” said Jimenez, who was 15-1 at the break, earning the starting job for the National League in the All-Star game.
Back then, it seemed unfathomable that he might not reach 20 wins.
“I hope he gets it,” Torre said.
So does Blake.
“He’s had a rough go as of late but he seems like a great guy that has a really good attitude and he’s had a solid year, so you want to see him get his 20th,” Blake said. “(Just) not against us.”
Jimenez has been victimized by poor run support, shoddy defense and his own control issues over the season’s second half. And Monday night was another one in which Jimenez got very little support despite a stellar effort—he gave up just three hits in seven innings with four walks and six strikeouts.
His inability to locate the plate with his fastball cost him during a 29-pitch first inning, too.
Lilly (9-12) was dominant. He had the Rockies either chasing his offspeed pitches or frozen by his deceptive fastballs. He walked two, and of his eight strikeouts, five were called.
The Dodgers loaded the bases in the first on a bloop leadoff single by Rafael Furcal(notes) and two four-pitch walks. Blake’s two-out comebacker struck Jimenez on his right foot and ricocheted over Tulowitzki’s head, allowing two runs to score.
“It hit my toe, but I was OK,” Jimenez said.
Lilly, who didn’t give up a hit until Gonzalez deposited his knee-high fastball in the center field rock pile in the fourth for his 34th homer, said he made sure to release curveball down in the zone because it has a tendency to stay up at altitude.
“I don’t think it was necessarily all that sharp and I got away with a few hangers,” he said. “But we were able to get some big outs.”
If that ball gets through, it’s probably kicking around the right-field corner and the game’s tied.
“That play kind of changed the game right there,” Lilly said.
And maybe the Rockies’ fortunes.
“It’s painful,” Gonzalez said, “because we all thought we were going to be battling until the end. We thought it was going to be really close for everybody, but we’re making it a lot easier for the other teams and more difficult for us.”