Aaron Harang pitched six strong innings and was backed by a busy offense as the Dodgers snapped their five-game losing streak with a 6-2 win over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday afternoon at Coors Field.
Tony Gwynn Jr. started the game by reaching via error, then later scored in the first inning on a single by Andre Ethier. That 1-0 lead after the top of the first was the first lead for the Dodgers since the first inning Wednesday when Matt Kemp re-injured his left hamstring scoring from first base against Milwaukee.
However that lead was short lived, as Dexter Fowler led off the bottom of the first inning with a triple. Harang got two outs but grooved a 3-1 pitch to Michael Cuddyer, who doubled off the wall in center field to tie the game at 1-1.
The Dodgers opened the second with a pair of singles, and cashed them in two outs later with a two-out single by Elian Herrera, who has found a home at the top of the lineup. Herrera has started 13 of the last 17 games, and he has at least one hit in all but one of those games. Herrera was 2-for-5 with a double on Saturday, and is hitting .328/.400/.397 so far on the season.
Herrera's two-run single went through the legs of Juan Nicasio, who landed awkwardly and was forced to leave the game after just 1 2/3 innings with a strained left knee.
Harang battled through that first inning, and outside of the heavy winds and light rain in the early part of the game had smooth sailing until the fifth inning. The Rockies loaded the bases with one out trailing 4-1, and had Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer due up.
Harang challenged Gonzlaez up in the zone and got him to pop out in foul territory, an out that angered Gonzalez so much he swung the bat at the ground (breaking it) harder than he did at the pitch from Harang. Cuddyer followed with a bouncer to second to end the inning to end the threat.
After the Dodgers extended their lead to 6-1 with the help of Bobby Abreu's first home run as a Dodger in the top of the sixth inning, Harang pitched a perfect sixth inning to end his day. Since the beginning of May, Harang is 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA in six starts, with 10 unintentional walks and 26 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings.
Gonzalez came to the plate in another key spot in the bottom of the seventh inning with the Dodgers ahead 6-2 and runners on first and third base, but incoming reliever Scott Elbert needed just one pitch to induce an inning-ending 3-6-3 double play.
Kenley Jansen, who had pitched just once in the previous six days, pitched the ninth inning in a non-save situation and retired the final three batters to secure the win.
- Andre Ethier doubled and scored in the sixth inning, giving him 18 doubles on the season. The only two Los Angeles Dodgers with more doubles through 53 team games are Wes Parker (1970) and Shawn Green (2000), with 20 each. Orlando Hudson, who joined Parker as the only L.A. Dodgers to hit for the cycle, is fourth on the list with 17 doubles in the first 53 games of 2009.
- With two runs batted in on Saturday, Ethier reclaimed the National League lead with 46 RBI, one more than Gonzalez.
- The Dodgers have had 13 different players hit a home run this season.
- Tony Gwynn Jr. didn't get a hit, but scored three runs after reaching base via a walk, an error, and a fielder's choice.
- The Rockies have had seven different relievers pitch a total of 13 innings in the first two games of this series, though Esmil Rogers is the only one to pitch both Friday and Saturday.
- Saturday was the Dodgers' 146th game in Coors Field, dating back to 1995. Harang's outing was their 46th quality start in the ballpark.
- From the correlation is not causation department, the Dodgers are now 7-0 when Adam Kennedy hits fifth.
Nathan Eovaldi starts the series finale on Sunday afternoon, a noon start, looking to build off his excellent 2012 debut, when he gave up two runs in seven innings in a loss to Milwaukee. Alex White gets the start for Colorado.
Home Runs: Bobby Abreu (1)
WP - Aaron Harang (4-3): 6 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts
LP - Juan Nicasio (2-3): 1 2/3 IP, 4 his, 3 runs (2 earned), 1 walk, 1 strikeout