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Dodgers score early, get beat late by Rockies to snap win streak

4 straight hits in 6 lift Colorado over Kershaw, LA

MLB: JUL 30 Dodgers at Rockies Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Dodgers scored early again, continuing a pattern this week, but then didn’t do much late. This time the cushion wasn’t big enough, with the Rockies rallying to beat Clayton Kershaw in a 5-3 win on Saturday night at Coors Field in Denver.

LA’s three-game win streak was snapped in a game in which they scored in the first inning for the fifth contest in a row.

Will Smith doubled home a run in the first inning, scoring Freddie Freeman, who doubled in the third inning and scored on a single by Hanser Alberto, getting the start at second base against left-hander Kyle Freeland. In between, Trea Turner homered, and the Dodgers led 3-2.

They only had one hit the rest of the way against Freeland, a bunt single by Alberto in the sixth.

Max Muncy doubled with two outs in the ninth against freshly-extended Rockies closer Daniel Bard. That brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Austin Barnes, who flew out to end the game.

In their last five games, the Dodgers have scored 20 total runs in the first three innings of those games. But they’ve only scored eight runs after that.

Score a book by its cover

It took 29 pitches for Kershaw to get through the first inning, though without the usual Coors Field shenanigans. There were two dribblers that went for infield singles, one of which culminating a 10-pitch at-bat by leadoff man Charlie Blackmon. Kershaw nearly threw away the second of those hits, which would have scored a run, only to have Freeman save his bacon by corralling the errant throw.

There was an error, on Muncy, that did score a run, but then Mookie Betts prevented further damage by throwing out Randal Grichuk trying to advance to second base. Betts leads the team with seven outfield assists, including three in his last six games.

Kershaw cruised after that, retiring 13 of his next 15 batters into the sixth inning. But with one out in the frame, Colorado started hitting the ball harder off Kershaw, who allowed four straight hits to end his night. Grichuk, who robbed Muncy of extra bases in the top of the inning in center field, tripled home two to give the Rockies the lead.

Cleaning up

Smith is 5-for-12 (.417) with six RBI in the series, and Saturday was his third straight game with a run-scoring extra-base hit. He was the designated hitter on Saturday with Austin Barnes behind the plate, emblematic in a shift in usage for Smith.

Catching is a difficult position and takes its toll over a long season. The Dodgers gave Smith ample rest over the first two months, including actual days off, especially during a team stretch of 31 games in 31 days. But since the first week of June, Smith has been unleashed, on Saturday starting for the 44th time over the Dodgers’ last 47 games. The results have been great so far.

Will Smith unleashed

Dates Days LA gms Smith starts DH starts PA BA/OBP/SLG wRC+ XBH RBI
Dates Days LA gms Smith starts DH starts PA BA/OBP/SLG wRC+ XBH RBI
through June 4 58 53 37 3 162 .228/346/.375 109 10 23
since June 5 56 47 44 12 195 .289/.364/.538 154 22 30
Sources: Baseball Reference & FanGraphs

Saturday particulars

Home run: Trea Turner (16)

WP — Kyle Freeland (6-7): 6 IP, 6 hits, 3 runs, 6 strikeouts

LP — Clayton Kershaw (7-3): 5⅓ IP, 8 hits, 5 runs (3 earned), 3 strikeouts

Sv — Daniel Bard (22): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 strikeout

Up next

The Dodgers’ final 2022 game at Coors Field comes Sunday afternoon (12:10 p.m. PT, SportsNet LA), with Tony Gonsolin on the mound for the road team. Germán Márquez starts for the Rockies, his fourth start against Los Angeles this season.