Maeda flirts with no-hitter in win over Rox

April 23rd, 2016

DENVER -- Kenta Maeda took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and got another win while A.J. Ellis slugged a two-run homer as the Dodgers beat the Rockies Saturday night, 4-1.

Maeda (3-0), lowered his league-leading ERA to 0.36. After a spectacular tumbling catch by left fielder Enrique Hernandez to end the fifth inning preserved the no-hitter, Maeda's flirtation with history was dashed on a line single to center by D.J. LeMahieu with one out in the sixth inning.

"He commanded everything," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said of Maeda's dominant performance. "It looked like we were never really in synch with him. He threw everything for strikes. It's a nice pitch mix. He can throw breaking stuff, slider, curveball at any time for a strike or just off the plate. It's late action on his breaking stuff. Very good fastball command. We just never looked like we were in rhythm against him, and that's a credit to the way he pitched."

In 6 ⅓ innings, Maeda struck out eight with a walk. Maeda is the first pitcher since at least 1913 to introduce himself to big league fans by allowing only one total run over his first four games, all as a starter. More >

"His pitchability, athleticism, calmness," said manager Dave Roberts. "First time here in Coors Field and to make pitches consistently, locate the fastball and breaking ball was down. It was a special night. This is the best fastball command since I've seen him. And after he realized you have to finish your breaking pitches here, his breaking pitches were sharp too. He rose to the challenge. He doesn't scare off."

Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth inning for his eighth save and 20th consecutive successful conversion dating back to last year. It was his 150th career save, 11 shy of Eric Gagne's franchise record of 161.


Maeda pitch: The biggest out Maeda got came with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the sixth, when he popped up Nolan Arenado to second base. Gerardo Parra tapped back to the pitcher, who flipped home for the third out.

Where ain't they?: For five futile frames the Rockies tried to employ the old axiom to "hit it where they ain't," but the Dodgers were everywhere. Carlos Gonzalez poked a ball that should have gone through a hole to right, but Dodgers third baseman Howie Kendrick was positioned deep on the infield grass to the left of first base and snared it on the fly. Hernandez reeled in a Tony Wolters drive in the fifth inning -- with the Rockies still hitless -- running full speed toward the warning track, reaching high over his head, making a "snow cone" catch, and hanging onto it as he somersaulted on the grass and sprung to his feet.

"Nothing I could do about it when I put a good swing to the ball and it doesn't happen," Gonzalez said of his hard out into the shift. "You have eight guys in front of you trying to catch the ball. Sometimes you're going to get cheap hits like the one I got my third at bat. So that's a little payback."

Gonzalez's hit in his third at bat loaded the bases in the sixth inning rally that finally broke up the no-hit bid. Gonzalez hit the ball between the shortstop and second basemen, who collided after positioning unusually close to each other in another shift.

Break on through:DJ LeMahieu finally got to Maeda with one out in the sixth, driving a single up the middle for a clean hit that no defensive heroics was going to stop.

"He knows what he's doing out there," LeMahieu said. "He's got a good feel. He probably watches swings really well. He knows how people are reacting to his pitches. "He threw a lot of strikes, kept us off balance, so I just wanted to be aggressive. I blacked out on it. I just know I hit a curveball.

The Rockies followed a Trevor Story single to right and Gonzalez's infield single before Nolan Arenado popped to second with the bases loaded and Gerrardo Parra hit a comebacker to the pitcher for the final out.

"He might have been getting a little tired," LeMahieu said of the rally "He probably wasn't as sharp. I don't think any of those hits were really hard hits. And he got out of it. Again."

Blanking blocked: The Rockies put the brakes on the bullpen's bid to preserve Maeda's shutout when Brandon Barnes drove a two-out double to left to plate Ben Paulsen with Colorado's lone run.

"I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit," Barnes said. "We've got a runner at third, two outs, just trying to put a good swing on the ball and get something up and out over the plate."

Circus in town: Left fielder Enrique Hernandez made the defensive play of the game, sprinting out toward the wall to make a tumbling catch of Tony Wolters' gapper to end the fifth inning and keep the no-hitter intact. "Two pitches before that, coach George (Lombard) told me to come in a bit," said Hernandez. "(Wolters) was able to put a good swing on it and I just got a good jump and after that just let the hair do its thing and caught it."


"Facing him with nobody on, he takes a little bit of time to throw the ball to home plate, so that kind of gets your rhythm a little bit off. When you have to face him with runners on base, he's a little bit quicker out of the stretch. That makes it a little bit difficult. You gotta make adjustments. ...That's the toughest part about pitching in the Majors. When you have to face the lineup three times, that's normally when everybody feels more comfortable. We were able to put some runners on, but he came back big with good pitches and got out of trouble." -- Gonzalez on Maeda's effectiveness.


The Dodgers won a challenge in the top of the fifth inning when Adrian Gonzalez was called out by first-base umpire Tripp Gibson returning to first base after Corey Seager lined out to shortstop. The replay showed that Trevor Story's throw pulled first baseman Paulsen off the bag and the call was overturned.


Dodgers: The Dodgers don't know if they will start third baseman Justin Turner in Sunday's 1 p.m. PT series finale. Turner suffered a bruised big left toe when spiked by Colorado catcher Tony Wolters Friday night and didn't start Saturday night. Alex Wood gets the start for the Dodgers.

Rockies: Rockies right-hander Jordan Lyles (1-1, 6.00 ERA) tries to keep his momentum going after his first win of the season in Cincy Monday. Lyles pitched seven innings and allowed only one unearned run on four hits and a walk. He is winless in four starts against the Dodgers, and has never faced them at Coors Field. Lyles climbs the hill at 2:10 p.m. MT.

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