The Rockies finally put together outstanding pitching with prolific hitting when Chacin scattered three harmless singles and the Rockies pounded Chad Billingsley(notes) for 13 hits in a 6-5 victory Friday night.
Chacin left the game with a 6-0 lead, then watched nervously on TV as the Dodgers batted around in the ninth.
Nothing has come easy for Colorado this year.
“I was here on the couch waiting for the last out and then after the fifth run, I just starting walking,” Chacin said. “I was like, ‘C’mon, get the last out.”’
Chacin (7-4) stifled a Dodgers lineup missing slugger Matt Kemp(notes) (hamstring), and the Rockies scored five times in the fifth on six straight singles. The decisive rally was sparked by two uncharacteristic errors by the Dodgers, the best-fielding team in the major leagues.
The big lead was nearly frittered away in the ninth, and the genesis was a seemingly innocuous move to give first baseman Todd Helton(notes) a breather in advance of his day off Saturday. Manager Jim Tracy moved third baseman Ty Wigginton(notes) to first and put second baseman Chris Nelson(notes) at third.
After Kemp’s pinch-hit homer off Matt Belisle(notes), his NL-leading 19th, made it 6-1, Dioner Navarro(notes) hit a two-out grounder to third that Nelson fielded cleanly. Wigginton couldn’t handle his low, off-target throw, and that opened the door for the Dodgers’ big inning.
Tony Gwynn hit an RBI double, chasing Belisle. Expecting to get the night off after Chacin’s outstanding outing, Street was called on to get the final out to secure Colorado’s fourth win in five games.
“The game goes in the left hand column,” said a relieved Tracy, who insisted pulling his fine-fielding first baseman wasn’t the wrong move.
“As much as we’ve been grinding on him, and the fact of feeling like at 6-0, you’re in a very, very good place … I just wanted to get him out of there,” Tracy said. “I don’t feel personally that’s the reason they ended up back in the game at 6-5.”
Pressed, Tracy acknowledged that Helton has a better chance to make the scoop on Nelson’s throw.
“Yeah, he does,” Tracy said. “He does. He does. But, we removed him from the game.”
And in entered the drama, and lots of it.
The Rockies collected 17 hits. The 13 allowed by Billingsley (5-5) over 4 2-3 innings were a career high. He’s allowed double-digit hits just four times in his 145 career starts and two of those have come in the last two weeks and both times against the Rockies, who tagged him for 11 hits over seven innings in a 7-1 loss at Dodger Stadium on May 30.
This time, they made the most of all those hits.
Billingsley matched Chacin’s effectiveness for four innings, save for the 90-mph fastball that Troy Tulowitzki(notes) deposited halfway up the left-field bleachers leading off the second inning for his 12th homer. But things went haywire in the fifth, when Billingsley allowed seven singles and his ERA against Colorado this season soared to 8.59 over three starts.
The Dodgers began the night with the best fielding percentage in the major leagues (.988) but they made errors on back-to-back plays. With one out, Carlos Gonzalez(notes) bunted his way on base and took second on third baseman Casey Blake’s(notes) throwing error. Nelson singled and Oeltjen bobbled the ball in left, leaving runners at second and third.
Helton slapped a single to right, scoring both runners. Tulowitzki singled and the runners moved up on a wild pitch before Seth Smith(notes) delivered a two-run single. Chris Iannetta’s(notes) RBI single made it 6-0 and chased Billingsley.
“Hit me hard? They had 10 singles,” Billingsley said.
The Rockies caught a break when Kemp was scratched a half-hour before the game. He’s been torrid on the Dodgers’ 10-game trip that wraps up this weekend, going 15 for 29 with six homers and 14 RBIs and he came up a single shy of the cycle Thursday night.
Kemp said he hurt his left hamstring legging out a double Thursday and it bothered him again during batting practice.
“I thought maybe I should back off a little,” he said. “I’ve never had a hamstring injury so I knew it wasn’t normal.”
Kemp said he plans on playing Saturday in his 270th straight game, extending the longest active streak in the majors.
“I’m trying to play every game of my career,” he said. “I never want to sit out a game.”
NOTES: Oeltjen replaced Kemp in the lineup and played LF with Gwynn moving to CF. … Nelson set a career high with three hits and is hitting .333 since being recalled from the minors May 29. … Gonzalez had four singles, giving him seven hits off the Dodgers from the leadoff spot over the last two games.
Arnie Stapleton can be reached at http://twitter.com/arniestapleton