LOS ANGELES -- Before his name was announced through Dodger Stadium’s sound system, the groans had already filled Chavez Ravine. Kenley Jansen had blown three consecutive saves, with the two most recent starting the Dodgers’ three-game losing streak heading into Saturday night against the Rockies.
But this outing brought something different for Jansen: A save and cheers.
Jansen faced four hitters in the ninth and earned the save to secure a 1-0 win over Colorado. The one walk in his final line was the only blemish as Jansen and the Dodgers turned their luck around.
“I just gave everything I’ve got,” Jansen said to SportsNet LA. “Obviously, I had two hiccups to start the second half. Nothing I can do about it, but put it behind me and stay focused, because we have a long way to go here to win a championship.”
The first pitch he fired landed as a called strike against Charlie Blackmon. The groans that had echoed in the stadium quickly turned into cheers. Another pitch retired Blackmon on a popup and Jansen was two outs away from his first save since July 3.
Two pitches to Trevor Story -- a sinker and his signature cutter, inducing a flyout -- energized the crowd at Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles was one out away from its first win since Tuesday’s walk-off against the Giants.
But boos pervaded the night during Ryan McMahon’s at-bat, an eight-pitch walk.
Jansen needed three strikes against C.J. Cron to send Dodger Stadium into celebratory mode. The right-hander threw 15 pitches (10 strikes) to shut down the Rockies and preserve the slim margin of victory in the season’s 60th win (against 40 losses).
“I was really excited the way he was received tonight,” manager Dave Roberts said of his closer. “I know Kenley fed off of it. I really do believe that, and he was really good tonight. To have him throw the baseball, close out a one-run game, was big for all of us.”
Los Angeles’ lone run came from catcher Austin Barnes, who showed that his bat has plenty of power. The No. 5 hitter connected on a slider that lefty Kyle Freeland located down and in the zone to put the Dodgers ahead in the second inning. Barnes’ fourth homer of the year traveled 399 feet to the left-field corner and had an exit velocity of 102.7 mph, per Statcast.
“He really had a good swing, took some good pitches and then had a slider down below. Stayed through it, elevated it and it was the difference in the game,” Roberts said. “I just thought tonight, Austin, the fingers in lockstep with [starter] Tony [Gonsolin], and the other guys coming in, he was fantastic.”
Since the Dodgers returned home from their three-game series in Colorado that opened the second half, they had embarked on a 1-5 stretch against the Giants and Rockies, falling to three games out of first place in the National League West, behind San Francisco. Saturday's win, combined with a Giants loss to the Pirates, shaved the margin to two games.
"We've had some tough losses over the last three in a row. We need Kenley. He's been good for us,” Barnes said. “There's bumps in the road, sometimes, but he responds. He threw the ball really well tonight.
“When he goes pitch to pitch and he doesn't get ahead of himself, I think he's really, really good and that's what he did tonight. He didn't get ahead of himself.”