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Dodgers bullpen proves up to the task to beat Rockies in extra innings

4 scoreless innings for LA relievers before Pujols RBI single wins it in 10th

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

A game that started with neither team reaching base until the fourth inning morphed into a battle of bullpens late. Dodgers relievers proved up to the task, with four scoreless innings to beat the Rockies 5-4 in 10 innings on Tuesday night at Coors Field in Denver.

Albert Pujols provided the winning tally, a one-out, pinch-hit single in the 10th to score the free runner Gavin Lux.

The win helped the Dodgers keep pace in the National League West, remaining a game behind the Giants, who beat the Padres 6-5 in San Diego.

The Dodgers best relievers escaped late rallies to get the game through nine.

Entering with the bases loaded and two outs in a tie game in the seventh, Blake Treinen and his trusty My Pillow smothered a Rockies rally with a nine-pitch strikeout of Charlie Blackmon. Treinen remained in the game for the eighth, working around a chip-shot leadoff single to keep the game tied. Treinen’s 1⅓ innings marked his team-leading 13th relief appearance of at least four outs.

Gavin Lux provided a mini-rally with a two-out single in the top of the ninth, for his fifth multi-hit contest in his last eight starts. He was headed for scoring position thanks to a wild pitch by Carlos Estevez, but a perfect ricochet off the close wall behind home plate, combined with a rocket throw from catcher Elias Díaz and a perfect tag by the covering Ryan McMahon erased Lux to instead end the frame.

By contrast, in the bottom of the inning, a wild pitch by Kenley Jansen that didn’t stray far from Will Smith still proved far enough for Sam Hilliard, who walked, to advance to second with nobody out. But Jansen got a strikeout and a pair of flyouts to end the threat, sending the game to extra innings.

With Jansen used, Brusdar Graterol got the first two outs of the 10th, including a strikeout of C.J. Cron, but a walk to Ryan McMahon put runners at the corners with two outs. In came Alex Vesia, who got a Welker — this one, right-handed rookie pinch-hitter Colton — to go over the middle, with an easy fly ball to centerfield to end it.

Vesia is the ninth different Dodgers pitcher to earn a save in 2021, the most they’ve had in a season since 1991. The club record is 11 pitchers with a save, done in 1979 as well as retroactively in 1941 and 1946, technically before saves were an official stat.

“It speaks to a lot of good relief pitchers, and a lot of unselfishness,” manager Dave Roberts said. “We’re a good team. I trust all those guys down there, I really do.”

Five Dodgers relievers combined to record the final 12 outs without allowing a run, giving up two hits and five walks while striking out six.

To start the game the Dodgers offense was functioning about as well as my internet connection, with Antonio Senzatela carrying over his recent strong run into Tuesday night. The right-hander retired his first 11 batters face, and Trea Turner’s infield hit was the only blemish against Senzatela through 4⅔ frames.

But the third out of the fifth inning proved elusive, with the Dodgers collecting four straight two-out, two-strike hits for a pair of runs, including a single by Julio Urías for LA’s first run, his ninth RBI of the season, leading all MLB pitchers not named Shohei Ohtani.

In the sixth inning, Trea Turner struck again with another single, this one of the standard variety. Max Muncy banged a ball off the wall in center field, narrowly missing a home run but settling for a run-scoring double, complete with another patented “Smooth Criminal” slide by Turner.

Muncy’s double gave the Dodgers the lead, and he scored on a pair of fly balls to widen the advantage to two.

But the Rockies came right back in the bottom of the sixth with two runs of their own. Urías was relatively sharp on the mound, but also allowed five doubles. The four two-baggers hit with two outs drove in runs, including a pair of RBI doubles by Cron. The lone leadoff double by Urías was hit in the fifth inning by McMahon, who even advanced to third base with nobody out. But Urías retired the next three in order to strand him.

Both starters allowed four runs on seven hits in six innings. Neither walked a batter.

Tuesday particulars

Home runs: none

WP — Kenley Jansen (3-4): 1 IP, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

LP — Jhoulys Chacin (3-2): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 unearned run, 1 strikeout

Sv — Alex Vesia (1): 1 up, 1 down