DENVER -- When the postseason begins, Ricky Nolasco will be the fourth starter for the Los Angeles Dodgers. They acquired him in July to add depth to the rotation, but his arrival has helped them amass an embarrassment of pitching riches.
With Nolasco allowing two runs in six innings Tuesday night, the Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies 7-4. Los Angeles earned its sixth win in a row. Colorado lost for the third time in four games.
Since coming to the Dodgers on July 6 in a trade with the Miami Marlins, Nolasco is 7-1 with a 2.27 ERA in 11 starts. He has been even better lately, winning six consecutive decisions in a seven-start stretch from the beginning of August, posting a 1.83 ERA in that span.
"He's kind of solidified the fourth guy," Dodgers manager Don Mattlingly said. "That's what we were searching for."
Mattingly said he removed Nolasco (12-9) after 85 pitches, 61 strikes, because the right-hander pitched eight innings in each of his previous two starts and was starting to get his breaking ball up in the fifth and the sixth. Nolasco surrendered a run in each of his final two innings.
"I think key was throwing some fastballs in," said Nolasco, who allowed five hits and one walk while striking out five. "If you don't do that, these guys are going to start hanging over the plate a little bit, and that makes it a little easier for them. But I was just able to make pitches and attack, just keep putting pressure on them and throw quality strikes and let the defense work."
Nick Punto went 4-for-5 for Los Angeles. Carl Crawford added three hits, including a two-run single in the second inning, and Tim Federowicz had two hits and a first-inning sacrifice fly.
DJ LeMahieu collected two hits for the Rockies.
Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin (13-8) gave up three runs in the second inning but settled down and pitched seven innings, allowing just one more run.
"I didn't have the movement on my fastball in the early game," Chacin said. "I didn't have the sink. I left a few balls up, and they took them the other way. Just tried to settle down. I pitched well and waited for my team to score runs.
"That's all you can do. We didn't do anything to win the game today."
The Rockies made their share of mistakes.
Dexter Fowler was doubled off second base to end the eighth inning on a line drive Troy Tulowitzki hit to Dodgers shortstop Punto.
After Tulowitzki's groundout drove in a run to cut the Dodgers' lead to 4-2 in the sixth, Michael Cuddyer singled. Cuddyer broke for second but was caught stealing when Nolasco threw to second baseman Mark Ellis.
And worst of all, Charlie Culberson made a costly error in left field that enabled the Dodgers to score three runs in the ninth and ice the game.
Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez returned after nearly one month on the disabled list and played left field in the eighth inning, saving a run with a strong throw. Gonzalez, who wasn't able to play a final rehab game Monday because of swelling and discomfort in his sprained right middle finger, was due to lead off the eighth but didn't bat.
Josh Rutledge pinch-hit for Gonzalez and homered, cutting the Dodgers' lead to 4-3.
Rockies closer Rex Brothers gave up two singles and a walk to load the bases before Culberson's error cleared them. Culberson is an infielder with limited outfield experience.
"I got there quicker than expected and missed it," Culberson said.
Todd Helton's groundout netted a run in the ninth for the Rockies.
The Dodgers led 4-0 before Chacin helped himself with a run-scoring single with two outs in the fifth, ending Nolasco's streak of consecutive scoreless innings at 20. But in his past three starts, Nolasco has allowed two runs in 22 innings for an 0.82 ERA, the most recent portion of what he considers the best stretch of his career.
"Definitely yes, because the meaning, being in this chase right now," Nolasco said. "To be able to pitch my best at this time is big for me and the team."
NOTES: Fowler was in the lineup for the first time since he twisted his left knee Aug. 26. He went 0-for-2 with two walks ... Colorado RHP Tyler Chatwood will throw a bullpen session Wednesday to determine whether he makes his next start Saturday at San Diego. He suffered a bruised right thumb last Sunday when hit with a line drive and had to leave in the third inning. ... The Rockies recalled RHP Mitchell Boggs, RHP Manuel Corpas, RHP Collin McHugh and INF Ryan Wheeler from Triple-A Colorado Springs. ... The Dodgers recalled RHP Chris Withrow from Triple-A Albuquerque, and he got the final out of the game to earn his first save in the big leagues and the third in his professional career. ... OF Matt Kemp (left ankle), who had been playing at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga, will continue his rehab Wednesday at the Dodgers' facility in Glendale, Ariz., where he can get 10-12 at-bats daily for at least four days before possibly returning to the Dodgers. ... Mattingly said his lineup Wednesday night would not include OF Andre Ethier and Crawford and possibly 1B Adrian Gonzalez against Rockies LHP Jorge De La Rosa.