Dodgers' bullpen falters in loss to Rockies; Cody Bellinger's hamstring tightens

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The Rockies' Charlie Blackmon, left, runs after hitting a two-run homer off Dodgers reliever Jimmie Sherfy.
The Rockies' Charlie Blackmon, left, runs after hitting a two-run homer off Dodgers reliever Jimmie Sherfy in the 10th inning Friday night. Colorado won 9-6. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Cody Bellinger took an 0-for-25 skid into Friday night’s game, the Dodgers center fielder looking overmatched for most of the last three weeks and hitting into some bad luck at times, like his 100-mph one-hopper up the middle that went for an out against a shifted infield Thursday night.

“It just seems like whoever has the [voodoo] doll with the pins in it,” Dodgers hitting coach Brant Brown said earlier Friday, “we need to find it and take them out.”

The Dodgers might want to hold off on that exorcism. Bellinger ended his hitless streak with a two-out, run-scoring double in a three-run first inning, capping an eight-pitch at-bat with a 99-mph drive to right field.

Bellinger lined out to right in the third but drove an 0-and-2 fastball from Rockies left-hander Ben Bowden off the right-center-field wall for a triple in the sixth and scored on AJ Pollock’s single for a two-run lead.

The Dodgers' Cody Bellinger reacts after hitting a first-inning RBI double to end an 0-for-25 skid.
The Dodgers' Cody Bellinger reacts after hitting a first-inning RBI double to end an 0-for-25 skid. He added a triple but left after seven innings with hamstring tightness. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

Dodgers relievers Brusdar Graterol and Darien Núñez combined to give up two runs in the eighth, the team’s third bullpen meltdown in as many nights tying the score. Sam Hilliard put the Rockies up by one with a two-out, pinch-hit solo homer off Nunez in the ninth.

The Dodgers rallied for a run on Justin Turner’s bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth to tie the score 6-6. But with the bases loaded and no outs, and needing only to put a ball in play for the win, Will Smith, Sheldon Neuse and AJ Pollock all struck out.

Trevor Story then hit an RBI single and Charlie Blackmon hit a two-run homer off reliever Jimmie Sherfy to give the Rockies a 9-6 victory, the Dodgers’ third straight game in which the bullpen could not hold a late lead.

Bellinger didn’t make it to the eighth. His first multi-hit game since June 11 produced a modest improvement on an injury marred season in which he’s batting .162 with a .524 OPS, four homers and 20 RBIs in 42 games, including a 20-game stretch before Friday in which he hit .069 (five for 72) with a .282 OPS, one homer, five RBIs and 23 strikeouts.

The Dodgers' Justin Turner, right, celebrates his home run with Cody Bellinger during the third inning.
The Dodgers' Justin Turner, right, celebrates with Cody Bellinger after Turner homered during the third inning. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

But it came with a price. Bellinger left the game after seven innings because of left hamstring tightness, most likely incurred when he legged out his triple, and the severity of his injury was not immediately known.

Asked before the game what it would take for Bellinger to end his funk, Brown said: “To be honest, I just think a couple of hits. They don’t even have to be hit hard. Just a couple of left turns.”

The left-handed-hitting Bellinger took so many left turns in 2019 that he won the National League most valuable player award, batting .305 with a 1.035 OPS, 47 homers, 34 doubles, 115 RBIs and 121 runs.

A right shoulder that he dislocated several times in 2020 slowed Bellinger during the pandemic-shortened season, when he hit .239 with a .789 OPS, 12 homers and 30 RBIs in 56 games.

Bellinger aggravated the shoulder with a violent forearm bash with teammate Kiké Hernandez while celebrating his home run in Game 7 of the NL Championship Series against Atlanta. He had surgery to repair the shoulder last November and did not play in spring-training games until mid-March.

Dodgers starter David Price pitches during the first inning July 23, 2021.
Dodgers starter David Price gave up three runs in 5-2/3 innings. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Then, in the fourth game of the season, Bellinger suffered a hairline fracture in his left fibula, an injury that sidelined him for seven weeks. He returned on May 29 but went on the injured list again in mid-June because of left-hamstring tightness.

“The first thing we need to understand is that after his surgery, he didn’t have the ability to have a normal offseason with his strength and conditioning,” Brown said. “He had to work his way into spring training, and once he got into the season, his leg got stepped on.

“So now you’re dealing with a shoulder that’s coming off surgery and a back leg that’s been cracked. Obviously, from 30,000 feet, it looks off. He’s playing at the highest level against the best pitchers, and when it’s a little bit off and you’re fighting things you can’t control, it’s a tougher process."

Short hops

Left-hander David Price gave up three earned runs and four hits in 5-2/3 innings, striking out four and walking one in a solid 74-pitch start. … Turner hit his 18th homer of the season, a solo shot to left, in the third. … An MRI test on Mookie Betts’ inflamed right hip “didn’t show anything new,” manager Dave Roberts said. The right fielder, who has not started the last six games, probably will sit out the weekend games in hopes of returning Tuesday at San Francisco.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.