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Max Muncy, Ryan Yarbrough fuel Dodgers late comeback win over Rockies

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MLB: Colorado Rockies at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — The pitching duel between Clayton Kershaw as Ty Blach was as stingy as expected, but newcomer Ryan Yarbrough provided a scoreless bridge to a Dodgers comeback, and Max Muncy drove in single runs in the seventh and eighth innings to beat the Rockies 2-1 on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers have won five straight games, and are 9-1 since the trade deadline.

Kershaw held up his end of the bargain. Pitching in a game for the first time in over six weeks, the left-hander allowed only a fifth-inning solo home run to Elehuris Montero. That snapped a 20-inning scoreless streak by Kershaw, which dated back to June 14.

Kershaw has allowed zero or one run in eight of his 17 starts this season.

He was pulled after just 67 pitches and five innings, which was to be expected since he hadn’t pitched in 44 days and Kershaw’s only ramp-up facing hitters was two simulated games, topping out at four innings.

“It’s no fun being on the sidelines. You want to be out there, you want to be a part of what’s going on here. You want to help the team win,” Kershaw said. “It was a great feeling, good to be back out there, good to be at Dodger Stadium again. I don’t take for granted this opportunity.”

The Dodgers will ride Kershaw going forward, because he’s the best pitcher on the staff, even in his 16th season. But this was about as long as he was going to pitch in this game specifically.

“Clayton expects to be a big contributor. We need him to be that guy,” manager Dave Roberts said before Thursday’s game. “You never want to put it on any one player. But Clayton feels a lot of the responsibility given what he’s done in the game.”

Kershaw left trailing, because the Dodgers couldn’t muster much of anything against Blach, who has proved to be a nemesis throughout his career. They didn’t score off Blach until Max Muncy led off the seventh with a home run, tying the game at one.

That ended Blach’s night, and his one run allowed actually made his Dodger Stadium ERA go up, from 1.16 to 1.23, now in 29⅓ innings. In his career, the left-hander has a 3.13 ERA in 77⅔ innings, his best facing any team he’s started against more than twice.

“Cy Blach,” Roberts joked. “I know it’s Ty, but he’s like Cy Young against the Dodgers.”

The home run by Muncy snapped an 0-for-17 skid against left-handed pitchers, during which he also walked seven times and was hit by a pitch, with five strikeouts. Muncy’s previous hit against a southpaw, before Thursday’s home run, was a grand slam off the Rangers’ Martín Pérez on July 23 in Texas.

In the eighth inning, the Dodgers loaded the bases on two walks and a single. Josh Bard relieved Tommy Doyle and issued the second of those walks to Freddie Freeman, loading the bases with one out. After Rockies shortstop Ezequiel Tovar made an incredible catch in short left field to prevent the go-ahead run from scoring, Muncy coaxed a five-pitch walk out of Bard to provide the winning margin.

Yarbrough piggybacked Kershaw with three scoreless innings, striking out four with only one single allowed, earning his first win as a Dodger. He allowed only one hit, a single by Tovar in the seventh, but Yarbrough picked him off on his third throw to first base. Under new MLB rules this year, any pickoff attempt or disengagement after the second try must result in an out, or a balk will be called.

“The first one was just to let him know, ‘Hey, we’re keeping an eye on you,” Yarbrough said. “I don’t think it struck me until after we picked him off that that was the third throw, but when you see a guy dancing and really getting off the base like that, you’re going to take your chances.”

Change of pace?

In the first two innings, Kershaw threw three pitches classified by Statcast as changeups, which are his most thrown in one start since 2021. He only threw eight changeups in his first 16 starts this inning. On of them on Thursday struck out Rockies designated hitter Elehuris Montero looking to end the second inning, the first strikeout ending on a Kershaw changeup since May 31, 2018, when he got César Hernández of the Phillies, also looking.

During the broadcast, Orel Hershiser and Joe Davis were talking about the pitch as a split-change, a pitch Fabian Ardaya and Eno Sarris wrote about at The Athletic in April.

Kershaw after the game said he threw four changeups, and three were okay.

“I threw it four times and it’s like a threw it a million,” Kershaw joked. “They just had some guys where a changeup was a good pitch. I talked about it with [catcher Austin] Barnesy before the game, and was like, ‘Hey, might as well give it a shot.’”

“I like that. He and [Elias] Díaz have a lot of history, and I like that he wanted to change it up,” Roberts said of Kershaw. “I thought Austin did a fantastic job.”

Thursday particulars

Home runs: Max Muncy (28); Elehuris Montero (4)

WP — Ryan Yarbough (5-5): 3 IP, 1 hit, 4 strikeouts

LP — Tommy Doyle (0-1): 1⅓ IP, 2 hits, 1 run, 1 walk

Sv — Brusdar Graterol (5): 1 IP, 1 strikeout

Up next

Lance Lynn makes his third start with the Dodgers on Friday night (7:10 p.m.; SportsNet LA, MLB Network), looking for his third win with his new team. Austin Gomber is on the mound for the Rockies, the ninth left-handed starting pitcher facing the Dodgers in the last 15 games.