The Dodgers had a shortened game on Sunday afternoon but didn't come up short against the Rockies. Far from it, as Clayton Kershaw was magnificent and the offense got a boost from some unexpected sources in a 6-1 victory in the series finale at Coors Field.
The game was delayed by rain for a little over 90 minutes in the middle of the sixth inning, then ultimately called.
The last Dodgers regulation game called before nine innings came on April 22, 2004, a 7-1 loss to the Rockies, also at Coors Field. The last three Dodgers games called before nine innings have been in Denver, including Sunday. The last such Dodgers game that wasn't in Colorado was April 23, 1984, in San Diego, a 1-0 win in six innings.
Kershaw struck out the side in the first inning, then even though he allowed a pair of singles in the second he struck out three more. Kershaw allowed only a home run to Troy Tulowitzki to lead off the fourth inning.
In his five innings of work, Kershaw allowed a run on three hits and struck out nine with no walks. In his career, Kershaw had seven career starts with at least nine strikeouts and no walks heading into this year. In 2014, he has four such outings, in eight starts. With 64 strikeouts and seven walks on the season, Kershaw leads all National League pitchers in strikeout-to-walk ratio, minimum 40 innings.
Kershaw also matched his season high with nine strikeouts, a figure he has achieved in six of his eight starts, including four straight. Kershaw is the only pitcher in baseball dating back to at least 1914 with four consecutive starts with exactly nine strikeouts.
Jorge De La Rosa looked like hot garbage in the first inning, running the count full to five of his six batters faced. He walked the first two batters - Chone Figgins and Hanley Ramirez - and Figgins stole third to put runners at the corners. After a slumping Adrian Gonzalez struck out, Matt Kemp continued to heat up with a triple to center field to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.
The triple was the second in as many days for Kemp and the 17th of the year for the Dodgers in their 64th game of 2014, matching their seasonal total for all of 2013.
Kemp went 2-for-2 with a walk on the day and for the weekend was 5-for-9 with three walks, two triples and no strikeouts.
But much like the eighth inning on Saturday, when Kemp was stranded after his leadoff three-bagger, Kemp couldn't score in the first inning Sunday as Scott Van Slyke and Jamie Romak struck out.
De La Rosa needed 35 pitches to get through the first inning, throwing just 16 strikes. But he settled down and didn't allow a run until the sixth, when the Dodgers blew it open.
With one out, Hanley Ramirez absolutely destroyed a ball, over the seats in left field and on to the walkway. The distance on the shot, which put the Dodgers up 3-1, was estimated between 461 and 472 feet, either way the longest home run hit by a Dodger this season.
It was the first extra-base hit of the month for Ramirez, who entered Sunday 3-for-20 in June.
After the home run, De La Rosa walked both Gonzalez and Kemp to end his day after 109 pitches. Relief pitcher Matt Belisle struck out Scott Van Slyke for the second out of the inning, but Jamie Romak doubled to the left center field gap to score two runs.
It was the first major league hit for Romak and his first two RBI, making his first major league start after six games as a reserve.
Fellow first-time major league starter Miguel Rojas followed with a single for his first major league hit to score Romak and give the Dodgers a 6-1 lead.
Kershaw got a complete game for his efforts, the first complete game of under eight innings by a Dodgers pitcher since Rick Honeycutt pitched six innings to beat the Padres in that aforementioned shortened 1984 contest.
The Dodgers bullpen was only needed for 5⅔ innings in the weekend series in Denver, the second-fewest by the Dodgers during any three-game stretch at Coors Field. Dodgers relievers threw 4⅔ innings in three games from Sept. 25-27, 1997.
The Dodgers head to Cincinnati for four games in the Queen City. Dan Haren gets the call in the opener for the Dodgers, facing left-hander Tony Cingrani for the Reds. Monday's opener, a 4:10 p.m. PT start, will be televised by both SportsNet LA and ESPN, the latter as a full national broadcast meaning the ESPN broadcast won't be blacked out in Los Angeles.
Home runs: Hanley Ramirez (10); Troy Tulowitzki (17)
WP - Clayton Kershaw (5-2): 5 IP, 3 hits, 1 run, 9 strikeouts
LP - Jorge De La Rosa (6-5): 5⅓ IP, 4 hits, 5 runs, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts