Ryan Pepiot, as the kids say, understood the assignment. Tasked with a spot start for the fourth time in his rookie season, the right-hander had his best big league outing to date, striking out six in five innings on Tuesday, earning his first major league win in the Dodgers’ 5-2 triumph over the Rockies.
Pepiot attacked the zone throughout his outing, throwing 67 percent of his pitches for strikes. That was up from 55.6 percent strikes in his first three starts, which also featured 11 walks in 11⅓ innings. Pepiot only walked one on Tuesday, which helped him last five innings for the first time in the majors. He allowed four hits, two of which came back-to-back in the second inning for the Rockies’ only run against Pepiot. José Iglesias doubled home Ryan McMahon to give Colorado an early lead.
That lead was short-lived thanks to a player who’s made a career out of controlling the strike zone.
Max Muncy hit a two-run home run off Germán Márquez in the bottom of the second put the Dodgers on top. Muncy also doubled in the fourth and scored on a Justin Turner single. Both drives by Muncy came on the first pitch.
It was just the third game with multiple extra-base hits this year for Muncy, but gave him five hits for extra bases over his last nine games. That matched Muncy’s total over his previous 35 games.
Muncy even walked twice and stole a base in this one, the latter his first of the season.
In between Muncy extra-base hits, Mookie Betts added a solo home run, his team-leading 18th of the year, and his first since returning from the injured list on Sunday.
With Chris Taylor out with a fracture in his foot, the Dodgers started Jake Lamb in left field on Tuesday against the right-handed Márquez. Lamb was 0-for-2 with a walk, before Trayce Thompson took over for the final three innings. Thompson delivered a run-scoring single in the eighth inning, providing an insurance run, his ninth RBI in 39 plate appearances since joining the Dodgers.
Iglesias, whose two home runs on the season were hit the last two Mondays against the Dodgers, nearly tied this game with another home run in the seventh, only to see his seventh-inning drive down the left field line drift foul. That near two-run shot was off Phil Bickford, who allowed a home run to Kris Bryant the inning before.
Bickford recovered to get Iglesias, and recorded five outs while working on his second day in a row, the third time this season Bickford has pitched longer than an inning. Evan Phillips followed and worked around a single to record four outs of his own, striking out the dangerous C.J. Cron to end the eighth. Tuesday marked the sixth multi-inning appearance by Phillips this season.
With Craig Kimbrel still unavailable after taking a line drive off his back on Sunday — Bill Plunkett at the Orange County Register has more on Kimbrel’s status here — the closer wheel turned to Brusdar Graterol, who worked around a single in the ninth for his second save of the season.
Home runs: Max Muncy (8), Mookie Betts (18); Kris Bryant (1)
WP — Ryan Pepiot (1-0): 5 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts
LP — Germán Márquez (4-7): 6 IP, 6 hits, 4 runs, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Sv — Brusdar Graterol (2): 1 IP, 1 hit, 2 strikeouts
The Dodgers will turn to Mitch White, now on five days rest like his rotation buddies, in Wednesday’s series finale (7:10 p.m., SportsNet LA, MLB Network), with José Ureña expected to start for the Rockies, as noted by Danielle Allentuck of the Colorado Springs Gazette.