LOS ANGELES -- Chris Taylor knew Tuesday night's game was over the instant he made contact in the 10th inning. For practical purposes, he waited a beat before raising his right arm skyward.
Taylor widened the Dodgers' lead in the National League West, crushing a game-ending, 10th-inning home run in a dramatic 3-2 victory over the Rockies to boost their advantage to 1 1/2 games in the division.
With the game tied 2-2, Taylor crushed a 2-2 pitch from Rockies reliever Adam Ottavino for his 17th homer of the season, thrusting a fist into the air as the ball headed toward the left-field seats. It was the Dodgers' sixth walk-off victory of the season and Taylor's first career game-ending homer.
"I knew I got the barrel to it and had a petty good feeling it was going," Taylor said. "But I wanted to make sure. I was running kind of hard."
Taylor was not only the hero on the field, he was something of a motivational leader as well, reminding his teammates that big games like these are what the Dodgers know well.
"[Experience] is tough to quantify really, but I think [Taylor] might have said it best," Clayton Kershaw said. "We know we have succeeded in these situations, so I guess that we should expect to succeed because we've done it before. I guess that's one way to look at it, that it is not uncharted territory for us."
The Dodgers' bullpen followed Kershaw's seven strong innings with three scoreless innings. Dylan Floro (6-3) struck out the only two batters he faced to earn the victory. Kenta Maeda struck out the side in the eighth inning and Kenley Jansen pitched a scoreless ninth.
Kershaw gave up just two runs on three hits despite allowing five walks. It was his second-highest walk total this season after the six walks he gave up April 25 to the Miami Marlins.
"Obviously there was a lot of traffic out there and there was one big swing by [Charlie] Blackmon, but other than that, for the most part, it was OK," Kershaw said.
Rockies starter Kyle Freeland gave up two runs on five hits over 6 2/3 innings, but his walk total was elevated as well. The left-hander tied his season high with four walks.
It was an odd night on the bases and in the field with miscues and errors aplenty.
Matt Kemp gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a two-out RBI single to right field. But he was thrown out by Rockies right fielder Gerardo Parra before he could get back to the bag.
Manny Machado scored on Kemp's hit after his own two-out double, but instead of having two runners aboard and Freeland on the ropes early, the inning was over.
The Rockies then tied the score in the third inning when third baseman Justin Turner and left fielder Taylor each made an error on the same play. The Rockies' DJ LeMahieu sent a roller toward Turner, who had the ball go under his glove.
As the Rockies' Garrett Hampson was scoring on the play to tie the game at 1, Taylor overran the ball. Hampson was starting at shortstop in place of Trevor Story, who injured his elbow in Monday's game.
The Rockies grabbed a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning when Blackmon crushed a home run to right-center field off Kershaw. The 447-foot blast was the longest allowed by Kershaw at Dodger Stadium since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015. It was also the second-longest home run by any hitter at Dodger Stadium this season.
More shaky defense arrived in the bottom of the fifth inning when Gold Glove third baseman Nolan Arenado made his first of two errors. He tried to flip the ball back to the third base to get Austin Barnes, but Hampson was blocked from the bag by umpire Lance Barrett and the ball rolled into foul territory. Barnes scored to tie the score 2-2.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Turner made up for his third-inning error, making a diving stop and throw to first in the seventh when the Rockies had two on base against Kershaw. The play was similar to the one he misplayed in the third, but actually more difficult. Kershaw let out a roar on the play, which ended up being the final out he recorded on the night.
"I owed Kersh one for missing a ball earlier in the game," Turner said. "I told him in the dugout 'Go figure, I make that play and I missed the [more] routine one.' Kershaw was unbelievable keeping guys off-balance and helping us in the game, giving us a chance to win."
Kemp only starts for the Dodgers against left-handed pitchers these days, but he produced in the first inning, hitting his single with Machado on third base. With runners in scoring position this season, Kemp is batting .355 with a .582 slugging percentage. It is the best batting average with RISP in the National League.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Maeda is mostly reserved with his emotions, but he let his feelings out with a roar in the eighth inning when he struck out Arenado and Matthew Holliday swinging, before getting Ian Desmond looking. It was nearly an immaculate inning as he threw 10 pitches, nine of them strikes.
Maeda's move back to the bullpen in August has been rough at times, but the Dodgers are confident he will start looking more like the pitcher who was a secret weapon in relief last postseason.
"We're betting on it," manager Dave Roberts said. "That's why we made the move, considering when we made the move, the position we were in. We need those huge outs from Kenta and we've seen it."
HE SAID IT
"Depth is a key word around here. You see it tonight. We basically brought out a completely different lineup against the lefty than we did the night before. It just goes to show the caliber of players we have in our clubhouse and the unselfishness of guys to take lesser roles to be in different situations." -- Kershaw, on a deep Dodgers roster
The Dodgers will send rookie Walker Buehler to the mound Wednesday in the series finale against the Rockies, with the right-hander coming off what was possibly his best start of an impressive season. Buehler held the Cardinals scoreless over eight innings and matched a season high with nine strikeouts. The Rockies will counter with left-hander Tyler Anderson, with first pitch at 7:10 p.m. PT.