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Tony Gonsolin breaks out of the doldrums in Dodgers’ latest win over Rockies

Colorado Rockies v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

Tony Gonsolin had his best start in two months, something he and the Dodgers both needed. He was backed by three home runs in a 4-1 win over the Rockies on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers have won seven games in a row, and are 11-1 in August.

Gonsolin struck out six and walked none, allowing just one run in six innings, and retired 18 of his last 20 batters faced. It’s his first quality start since pitching six scoreless innings June 13 against the White Sox.

In between those stellar starts, Gonsolin allowed four or more runs in seven of nine starts, with a 6.89 ERA and 5.48 FIP. The return of Clayton Kershaw, and with trade deadline acquisition Ryan Yarbrough having excelled in two bulk relief outings since joining the Dodgers, Gonsolin needs to pitch well to remain in the rotation.

“It’s no secret that — it’s been a lot of start that he hasn’t pitched well, to be quite frank,” manager Dave Roberts told reporters before Saturday’s game, as shown on SportsNet LA. “Given the way other guys are throwing the baseball, he’s going to have to pitch well. He’d be the first to tell you that. As we start getting guys back and honing in on the rest of the season, we’re going to go with our best pitchers, and that’s the way it should be.”

On Saturday, Gonsolin looked like one of the team’s best pitchers. Ezequiel Tovar hit his first pitch over the center field wall for a quick 1-0 lead, but the right-hander barely allowed anything else after that. The only other hits against Gonsolin were a fly ball double by Ryan McMahon to open the fourth inning that clanged off a twisting David Peralta’s glove in left field, and a soft single by Tovar in the sixth.

Gonsolin’s 14 swinging strikes were his most in a start this season. Six came on the splitter, a pitch he threw only 20 times.

Power plays

Will Smith homered in the bottom of the first to answer Tovar’s shot, the 15th homer of the season for Smith, though only his second as a designated hitter. That’s not as noteworthy as it may appear though, because he’s only started nine times at DH compared to 76 times behind the plate. Smith has a home run every 20 plate appearances as DH, and a homer every 27 PA while catching.

James Outman continued his scorching August with a two-run home run in the second inning. It was his second home run of the month but he’s reached base over half the time in August, hitting .344/.512/.594 with 11 RBI in 11 games.

Outman had three hard-hit balls on the night, including a line drive appeared headed down the right field line in the sixth, only to be snagged by a lunging Elehuris Montero at first base for a tough-luck out.

Amed Rosario greeted reliever Matt Koch in the seventh inning with a first-pitch home run that bounced off the top of the left field wall. Rosario has driven in 11 runs in 13 games since getting traded to the Dodgers. Saturday’s home run was his third with the Dodgers, in 43 plate appearances, matching his total this year with the Guardians in 412 PA.

Saturday particulars

Home runs: Will Smith (15), James Outman (14), Amed Rosario (6); Ezequiel Tovar (12)

WP — Tony Gonsolin (8-4): 6 IP, 3 hits, 1 run, 6 strikeouts

LP — Peter Lambert (2-4): 6 IP, 7 hits, 3 hits, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Sv — Evan Phillips (17): 1 IP, 3 strikeouts

Up next

The Dodgers go for the four-game sweep on Sunday afternoon (1:10 p.m., SportsNet LA), with Julio Urías on the mound looking for his third straight win. Kyle Freeland, another left-hander, starts for the Rockies.

Last time the Dodgers swept the Rockies in a four-game series was September 22-25, 2016, culminating in Charlie Culberson’s division-winning home run in Vin Scully’s final home game of his career.