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Kershaw keeps first-place Rox grounded

May 12, 2017

DENVER -- Chase Utley tripled in two runs, Corey Seager lashed a two-run double and Joc Pederson added an RBI double in a five-run second inning as the Dodgers won for the 11th time in 14 games, topping the Rockies, 6-2, at Coors Field on Friday night.The runs were enough

DENVER -- Chase Utley tripled in two runs, Corey Seager lashed a two-run double and Joc Pederson added an RBI double in a five-run second inning as the Dodgers won for the 11th time in 14 games, topping the Rockies, 6-2, at Coors Field on Friday night.
The runs were enough for Dodgers lefty ace Clayton Kershaw (6-2), who limited the Rockies to two runs and seven hits in seven innings. Kershaw forced 10 ground-ball outs in a rebound from his last start at Coors -- four runs and eight hits in six innings of a 4-2 loss on April 8. The Dodgers cut their deficit to the National League West-leading Rockies to 1 1/2 games.

"The box score doesn't tell the whole story," Kershaw said. "It wasn't pretty. Nothing was great about it by any means. The guys got some runs early for me. It wasn't pretty, but I'll take the win any day of the week."
Among Kershaw's ground-ball outs were two double plays from Nolan Arenado -- in the first and in the third, after Charlie Blackmon had doubled with one out and scored on DJ LeMahieu's single.
"When we get opportunities, he's one of the toughest to have big innings on," LeMahieu said. "We battled all we could, but he's pretty good. When he gets guys in scoring position or on base, he throws that slider a lot, and it's one of the best pitches in baseball."
Rockies starter Tyler Chatwood (3-5) went 4 1/3 innings and gave up three of the six hits and three of the four walks against him in that fateful second inning, as the Rockies fell for the fifth time in their last 14 contests. More >>
"He sort of lost his command -- three walks," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "He just couldn't get the ball in the zone."
The Dodgers' Cody Bellinger would add his seventh homer in his 16th Major League game -- and his first against a left-handed pitcher -- when he took Jake McGee deep in the eighth.
"He doesn't scare off," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Bellinger. "He stays in there against the left-hander. We know McGee. He's heavy fastball. But for Cody to look fastball and adjust to the hanging breaker and elevate it pull side, he put a good swing on it. Jake's got a good arm and got beat with the second-best pitch."

Go ahead, throw a strike: Utley, whose swing arrived this week (7 for his last 10, raising his average 99 points, to .197), benefitted from Chatwood's poor control in the second. Two of the first four batters walked, with some pitches coming nowhere close to the strike zone. After watching a Chatwood cutter sail to the opposite batter's box, Utley waited for a strike and drilled it past diving center fielder Blackmon for his triple.
"Those guys in the clubhouse believe in him," Roberts said. "I believe in him. You know the production will come. That triple was big. He's coming. He continues to get better."
What momentum? Often, a big early lead merely gives the Rockies time for a home comeback. But that doesn't happen often against Kershaw, who is now 9-4 at Coors. But the Rockies had their chance after the big Dodger top of the second. Carlos Gonzalez's double gave them men at second and third with one out. But Kershaw struck out Pat Valaika and Dustin Garneau.
"I wouldn't say it's difficult to get a win here, because our team's going to score too. We played good tonight. We battled well off Chatwood and got some runs off him early and took advantage of some walks. I just tried to not give up five." -- Kershaw, who improved to 9-4 with a 4.58 ERA at Coors Field, and is now 89-0 with four or more runs of support.
Kershaw struck out four on a night when he clearly pitched to contact. Friday marked the 11th time in 273 career outings that Kershaw struck out four or fewer while pitching seven or more innings.
The Rockies' formerly slumping Gonzalez doubled in the second and singled in the fourth, both off Kershaw, on a 2-for-5 night that lifted his batting average to .208. Over the last four games, he's had four hits, two doubles and two singles. According to Statcast™, the exit velocities, respectively, were 107.8 mph, 111.5, 109.4 and 114.2. His final at-bat, against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, was an opposite-way fly to the warning track in left-center.
The Dodgers killed a rally with a manager's review of a fourth inning play that initially saw Valaika advance to second on a wild pitch from Kershaw to put runners on second and third with one out and one run already in to make it a 5-2 Dodgers lead. After reviewing the play, the Replay Official definitively determined that Valaika did not maintain contact with the base as second baseman Chris Taylor was applying the tag, and the play was overturned. That left a man on third with two outs, and Kershaw induced a fly to right from Garneau to thwart the rally and end the inning.

"I didn't mind the play at all," Black said. "We've got to push it against Kershaw. You can't sit back and think that you're going to score a bunch of runs."
Dodgers:Alex Wood toes the rubber for the Dodgers in the third game of a four-game set at 5:10 p.m. PT. He's off to a great start this season, but the Rockies have been his nemesis, especially at Coors Field, where Wood is 0-2 with an 11.25 ERA in four starts.
Rockies: Lefty Tyler Anderson (1-3, 6.69 ERA) is coming off his best start this season -- one run on six hits in six innings against the D-backs. He was supposed to start Thursday but left knee soreness pushed him to Saturday's game against the Dodgers, at Coors Field at 6:10 p.m. MT.
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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and** like his Facebook page**

Owen Perkins is a contributor to based in Denver and covered the Dodgers on Thursday.