In a closely contested game that found its way into extra innings Tuesday, Chris Taylor came to the plate in the bottom of the 10th and punished an Adam Ottavino slider that hung up in the zone.
The ball sailed out into the left field pavilion, sending Taylor’s teammates running out onto the field to celebrate a 3-2 walk-off win over the Rockies. A win that gives the Dodgers a 1.5-game lead in the division with 10 games to go on the season.
Coming at the most critical time, the Dodgers have now reeled off six wins in the last seven to put themselves in a good position to gain some separation in the push for the postseason.
Taylor’s 17th homer of the year gave the Dodgers their sixth walk-off of the season — the fifth since the start of August. It was the first career game-ending home run for Taylor.
It figured to be a close game with both teams sending their ace to the mound. Neither starter would figure in the decision, giving way in a 2-2 ballgame late.
It was the fourth time the Dodgers had faced Kyle Freeland this season. The lefty worked around traffic all night on the base paths, scattering five hits, four walks and two Nolan Arenado errors.
The Dodgers came into Tuesday looking to improve on their recent success against left-handed pitchers, hitting .276/.359/.469 since the calendar flipped to August. They got on the board in the first against Freeland.
Manny Machado came within a foot of a solo homer for a two-out double off the wall in center, followed by a David Freese walk. That cleared the way for Matt Kemp — on his bobblehead night — to line a run-scoring single to right to bring Machado home.
The Dodgers might have scored more in the opening inning had it not been for Kemp getting tagged out after taking a wide turn around first. Rockies’ right fielder Gerardo Parra had thrown the ball behind Kemp to Ian Desmond at the bag.
Down 2-1 in the fifth, Arenado would gift the second run of the night to the Dodgers on a chopper in front of third. The ball wasn’t hit hard enough for even Arenado to get Taylor at first, so the gold-glover decided to try and catch Austin Barnes coming around third.
Instead, the pitch towards the base would scoot down the line with nobody there to catch it, allowing Barnes to scamper home with the tying run.
The other lefty in the game gutted out seven innings to hold Colorado to just two runs.
Kershaw had everything working early on to get through the first two frames on just 16 pitches. But the southpaw labored through the next five innings, walking five with only three strikeouts.
The Dodgers gifted a run of their own in the third inning after Kershaw walked two in the inning. D.J. LeMahieu grounded a ball to Justin Turner at third that ended up in left field, bringing a run home to even the score at a run apiece.
Colorado briefly held the lead on a Charlie Blackmon homer in the fifth.
With two starts remaining on the season, Kershaw has very little wiggle room if he is going to lower his career ERA for the 10th consecutive season.
Clayton Kershaw is out after allowing 2 runs (1 earned) in 7 innings. In case you were wondering, here is what he’d need to do in his final 2 starts to lower his career ERA for a 10th consecutive season. pic.twitter.com/uQeyoKO2TJ— Eric Stephen (@ericstephen) September 19, 2018
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The Dodgers send Walker Buehler (7-5, 2.88) to the mound in search of a sweep over Tyler Anderson (6-9, 4.82) and the Rockies.
Home Runs: Blackmon (27), Taylor (17)
WP: Dylan Floro (6-3): 2⁄3 IP, 2 strikeouts
LP: Adam Ottavino (6-4): 1 1⁄3 IP, 1 hit, 1 Run, 1 strikeout