DENVER -- With closer Kenley Jansen skipping the Coors Field showdown series on doctor's orders, five of his Dodgers bullpen mates pieced together the final nine outs in Friday night's nailbiter of a 4-2 win over the Rockies, whose lead over Los Angeles in the National League West was trimmed
DENVER -- With closer Kenley Jansen skipping the Coors Field showdown series on doctor's orders, five of his Dodgers bullpen mates pieced together the final nine outs in Friday night's nailbiter of a 4-2 win over the Rockies, whose lead over Los Angeles in the National League West was trimmed to one-half game.
Kenta Maeda retired the two batters he faced for the save in place of Jansen, who stayed home as a precautionary measure because of the effect thin air has on his condition.
Caleb Ferguson, Dylan Floro (with one huge out), Thomas Stripling (just off the disabled list) and Scott Alexander preceded Maeda, who retired DJ LeMahieu and Nolan Arenado, but clearly has no aspirations of being the next Jansen.
"It still makes me a little nervous," Maeda said of Jansen's role. "I don't look like him, I don't throw like him."
Manager Dave Roberts said the outcome was "huge," knowing the bullpen melted down when Jansen missed 10 games in August after experiencing an irregular heartbeat.
"We can say anything to instill confidence, but until they go and put up zeros, that's when it starts to become more real," said Roberts. "For their confidence, I think it's a huge boost for them."
"It's huge," said winning starter Clayton Kershaw. "Guys have to step up in roles they're not used to. Huge to get three scoreless, huge to get the first win in the series."
The Rockies had runners each of the last three innings, including three in scoring position, but the lack of clutch hits was widespread. The Dodgers were 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position and stranded a dozen, while the Rockies were 1-for-9 and stranded 10.
The Dodgers scored on Yasiel Puig's 16th homer, an RBI double by Cody Bellinger, and a pair of unearned runs courtesy of a throwing error by Arenado, Colorado's Gold Glove third baseman.
"He threw me a slider in the middle and I made good contact," Puig said about the 463-foot homer, hit in the same direction as Trevor Story's 505-foot monster shot over the weekend. "If they hit farther than that, they need to check it out. He must be hitting the gym or something like that. I never go to the gym, I just drink my water."
Kershaw did the heavy lifting with seven strikeouts in six innings, although he called it "a grind" because the pitch he now relies on, the slider, wasn't sharp. Nonetheless, Kershaw (who also doubled and walked) is now 103-0 in his career when given four or more runs of support when he's in the game, though that includes some no-decisions.
"In this park, you've just got to keep going," said Kershaw. "Eventually, the guys will score some runs. I'll take it. We needed a win here tonight."
At 22-7 in his career, Kershaw has more victories against Colorado than anybody. He's 7-5 overall this year and, since coming off the disabled list on June 23, he's 6-1. According to Stats LLC, Kershaw's 2.04 ERA in September and October is the lowest by any pitcher in the live-ball era.
The top of the fifth inning was bizarre and decisive. Chris Rusin relieved Rockies starter Jon Gray and threw eight consecutive balls to walk Manny Machado and Player Page for Max Muncy. He struck out Bellinger, then was called for a balk, for which Rockies manager Bud Black was ejected for arguing. When play resumed, Colorado shortstop Story made a tricky backhanded stop of Enrique Hernandez's grounder in the hole and threw out Machado at the plate.
But on pinch-hitter Alex Verdugo's two-out bouncer, Arenado pulled Ian Desmond off the first-base bag for an error and Muncy scored. Colorado challenged, but the call stood, and Puig then singled home Hernandez. The inning ended with Puig getting thrown out trying to steal second with a runner on third.
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With a two-run lead, two outs in the seventh and two runners on, Floro entered for the Dodgers. He walked Arenado to load the bases, then struck out Story to end the threat.
"That was probably the at-bat of the game," said Roberts. "Story is one of the hottest hitters in baseball. Make a mistake and it's a homer. Credit to Dylan, he won that battle."
Kershaw posted his 12th consecutive quality start, tied for the second longest of his career and the longest since he had 12 in 2015.
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Puig's blast was the longest of the year for the Dodgers and his longest since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015. Four of his 16 home runs this year have come against Colorado.
Walker Buehler opposes Kyle Freeland and the Rockies in Saturday's 5:10 p.m. PT start. Buehler wasn't quite as sharp as he'd been recently against the D-backs on Sunday, but he allowed only one run in 6 1/3 innings. X-rays were negative on Buehler's left foot afterward and he called it a muscle spasm that won't affect this start.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.