DENVER -- The Dodgers pretty much threw the kitchen sink at the Rockies on Friday night and it worked, a bullpen game and continued slugging revivals from Chris Taylor and Yasiel Puig powering an 11-8 comeback win.
The seesaw game at Coors Field featured Scott Alexander's four-out debut as a starting pitcher and Dennis Santana's busy debut as a Major Leaguer, in which he was credited with the victory even though he hit (two-run double) better than he pitched (five runs allowed in 3 2/3 innings).
But it wouldn't have been a win without home runs from Taylor and Puig, the former driving in four runs, the latter knocking out four hits, tying a career high. And the Dodgers wouldn't have cut the deficit behind the first-place Rockies to three games, their smallest since April 3.
"It was one of those survival of the fittest," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "You can never script a game in this ballpark."
Roberts asked closer Kenley Jansen to get the last four outs, which he did for his 13th save, but it was a struggle. Puig's two-run homer in the ninth, at 449 feet tying his longest since Statcast™ debuted, loomed large when the Rockies brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth.
Taylor, who earlier had tripled and brought home a run with a sacrifice fly, drove an opposite-field home run in the sixth inning (his eighth) that turned a potential loss in relief for Santana into his first victory after he doubled home two in his first at-bat, but also let two leads get away.
"I was able to foul off some good pitches and got the bat head to it to put a good swing on it the other way," Taylor said of his game-changer off Brooks Pounders. "And then it's Colorado. A Colorado homer, it's nice."
With 80 percent of their starting rotation on the disabled list and Alex Wood pushed back two days to rest his hamstring, the Dodgers joined the latest craze of starting a reliever. They staked Alexander to a 2-0 lead on a triple by Taylor, a sacrifice fly by Justin Turner and Matt Kemp's eighth homer. Alexander gave back one run in 1 1/3 innings on a single by DJ LeMahieu and triple by Carlos Gonzalez.
On came Santana, a starter assigned to debut in relief at inhospitable Coors Field. After a line out by Ian Desmond, Chris Iannetta doubled and Santana committed the sin of hitting pitcher Tyler Anderson with a pitch, bringing up LeMahieu, who flared an RBI single to tie the game. Charlie Blackmon tripled home two more.
The two-run double by Santana, a converted shortstop, was the key hit in a three-run fourth inning set up by defensive misplays from third baseman Nolan Arenado, who failed to barehand Enrique Hernandez's bouncer, and Anderson, who was late covering first on what was ruled an infield single by Puig. Santana's double tied the game and Taylor's sacrifice fly put the Dodgers ahead, 5-4.
But the Rockies came right back against Santana to tie it in the bottom of the fourth with a one-out walk of Iannetta and a two-out RBI single by LeMahieu. They took the lead again in the fifth on an infield single by Arenado, a wild pitch and a two-out RBI single by Gerardo Parra.
The Dodgers turned the game around as soon as Pounders took over for Anderson. Puig singled, pinch-hitter Breyvic Valera worked a walk and Taylor homered to right. John Forsythe added a sacrifice fly and Puig homered in the ninth, his sixth.
"Puig had a huge night," Roberts said. "When Yasiel's competing every at-bat, trying to win pitches, he's as good as anyone. It's just tapping into the mindset and keeping him consistent."
Santana is the first Dodgers player to record his first Major League hit as a relief pitcher in his debut since Dan Bankhead on Aug. 26, 1947.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Puig's 449-foot home run is the longest of the season for the Dodgers and it had a 109.3 mph exit velocity. According to Statcast™, it ties Puig's career longest since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015, previously July 14, 2017 off Dan Straily.
HE SAID IT
"A bullpen day. At Coors Field. Certainly, that's redundant." -- Roberts, on the Dodgers array of pitchers on Friday.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
With the Rockies down three and runners on first and second in the bottom of the ninth, Parra grounded to second baseman Forsythe, who got the second out of the inning at second base, but on Taylor's throw to first base, Parra was ruled safe. The Dodgers challenged the call, but it stood.
In Saturday's 4:15 p.m. PT game, Walker Buehler gets his first Coors Field start against German Marquez and the Rockies. Buehler has thrust himself into the Rookie of the Year conversation with his velocity, command and consistency. He showed all of that in seven innings vs. the Rockies at home two weeks ago, allowing only a solo homer to Gerardo Parra with six strikeouts.