LOS ANGELES -- With first place in the National League West hanging in the balance, Joc Pederson brought the power early for the Dodgers in an 8-2 win over the Rockies on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.The lopsided victory put the Dodgers a half-game above the Rockies in the division,
LOS ANGELES -- With first place in the National League West hanging in the balance, Joc Pederson brought the power early for the Dodgers in an 8-2 win over the Rockies on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.
The lopsided victory put the Dodgers a half-game above the Rockies in the division, kicking off a vital three-game series in just about the best way possible. The win also kept the Dodgers tied with the Cardinals at 83-68 in a hypothetical race for the second Wild Card.
Pederson opened the bottom of the first inning against Jon Gray with his sixth leadoff homer of the season, then led off a four-run third-inning with a double. He added his 23rd home run in the fourth inning, a two-run shot to make it 8-0 and the eighth multihomer game of his career.
• Pederson fist-bumps fan after catch
"Joc, he's just really gotten back to when he was really good," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "Looking out and over, staying in the strike zone and using right-center field to left-center field. Today, that's what he did, took a ball off Gray to left-center and did the same thing against a lefty to right-center field."
Pederson's fourth-inning home run was his first off a left-hander this season, taking reliever Harrison Musgrave deep to right field. Entering Monday, Pederson had seen left-handers just 54 times in 411 plate appearances this season. While he had posted just a .420 OPS against southpaws, that wasn't due to a lack of effort.
"I prepare and hit off a lefty in the cage almost every day," Pederson said. "Just try to stay locked in so when I get a chance, I can make the best of it. Something I need to continue to work on, but it is definitely an encouraging part of the process."
As if his bat wasn't enough, Pederson also contributed a highlight catch in left field during the fifth inning to rob Andrew Butera of extra bases.
Pederson wasn't the only source of power, as Player Page for Max Muncy also contributed a three-run homer in the third inning. The homer was Muncy's 33rd of the year, pushing him into a tie for fourth in the National League behind Matt Carpenter, Bryce Harper and Nolan Arenado.
That homer doubled the Dodgers' lead to 6-0, and was part of a string of six straight hits that chased Gray. The right-hander has now allowed 12 earned runs in three starts against the Dodgers over the last two months.
"We've seen Gray at times very good," Roberts said. "Today, he just didn't have command of his fastball and his slider just didn't have that sharp depth on the break. We waited him out, got some pitches out over and took advantage of it."
RYU ROLLS THROUGH ROCKIES
The Dodgers' offensive eruption was more than enough on a night in which Hyun-Jin Ryu dominated the Rockies' lineup. After seven shutout innings, the Dodgers pulled Ryu at 93 pitches, his highest total since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 15. More >
KNOCK ON WOOD
The lone blemish of the game for the Dodgers came when Alex Wood took the mound to open the eighth inning. Making his first relief appearance of the season and likely competing for a playoff roster spot, Wood struggled to the tune of two earned runs in two-thirds of an inning.
"It's a transition. He hasn't done it in quite some time," Roberts said. "He hadn't pitched in a week. We wanted to get Alex in there, get him some live action. We've got him in there, so I think, going forward, he'll be fine."
Pederson's sixth leadoff home run placed him in a tie for second-most in Dodgers history, behind only Davey Lopes' seven in 1979.
A pair of National League West aces will clash Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium as the Dodgers and Rockies continue to tangle for first place in the division. Clayton Kershaw, who allowed two earned runs in six innings against the Rockies less than two weeks ago, will take the mound opposite lefty Kyle Freeland, with first pitch set for 7:10 p.m. PT.
Jack Baer is a contributor to MLB.com based in Los Angeles.