Puig, Hanley out, but LA still wins sixth straight
Dodgers' magic number to clinch NL West at 13 games after victory
DENVER -- No Yasiel Puig, no Hanley Ramirez, no Kenley Jansen, no problem for the Dodgers, whose magical run continued Tuesday night with a 7-4 win over the Rockies at Coors Field.
The Dodgers' magic number to clinch the National League West is 12 and their win streak is six.
Ricky Nolasco's scoreless-innings streak was snapped at 20, but he won his sixth straight decision while outdueling Colorado's Jhoulys Chacin. Nolasco (7-1 with the Dodgers) went six innings and allowed two runs on five hits. He was coming off back-to-back starts of eight scoreless innings.
With Puig nursing a strained right knee (he was available to pinch-hit), Ramirez being rested so his legs don't break down and Jansen off-limits after pitching three straight days, manager Don Mattingly fielded a lineup of matchups and patched together the back end of the bullpen. Rookie Chris Withrow got called up and got his first career save on the same day.
Offensively, Nick Punto had four hits filling in at shortstop for Ramirez, with Carl Crawford adding three hits and two RBIs.
"Obviously, Donnie Baseball was an unbelievable player and he knows what he did against certain guys," said Punto, who busted out of a 2-for-21 slump. "Being a former player, he gives guys the best opportunity he can."
Against Colorado righty Jhoulys Chacin, Mattingly started Crawford (2-for-2), Punto (4-for-10), Adrian Gonzalez (6-for-10), Andre Ethier (9-for-24), Mark Ellis (3-for-9), Skip Schumaker (3-for-7) and Tim Federowicz (3-for-6). He also gave Michael Young (0-for-1) his first Dodgers start.
That lineup came away with four runs on nine hits in seven innings against Chacin. Crawford had multiple hits for a fourth consecutive game, going 10-for-18 in that span.
"It's not just kids we're throwing out there," said Mattingly. "It goes back to what I've said about what [general manager] Ned [Colletti] and his staff did over the winter. They went out and got professional hitters who give you a good at-bat."
And when the Rockies chipped away to close the margin to 4-3 through eight innings, the Dodgers got a gift when Charlie Culberson, Colorado's third left fielder, dropped Mark Ellis' two-out fly ball to right-center for a three-run error in the ninth.
"I just kept running and running, it was a long ball for me to get to," said Culberson. "I got to it a little quicker than I thought and just started to pull up, the ball kind of faded a little bit, and I missed it."
Federowicz went 2-for-3, but putting him behind the plate was more than just an offensive matchup. He not only is the regular catcher for Chris Capuano, but he's become the primary receiver for Nolasco in what has become essentially a shared position with A.J. Ellis, who almost always catches Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
"We've been good," Nolasco said. "I have no complaints with either catcher. They're very smart, do their homework."
The Dodgers are 9-2 in the 11 starts Nolasco has made since being acquired from Miami July 6. Federowicz has caught six of the last seven, with Nolasco going 5-0 with a no-decision. Nolasco's ERA with the Dodgers is 2.27.
"I just attacked," said Nolasco, who was not rattled by the Coors Field reputation. "Obviously, this is a dangerous place to pitch and a very good lineup. The key was my fastball in. If you don't do that, guys hang over the plate and it makes it easier for them."
Nolasco cruised through the first 4 2/3 innings, then didn't seem like the same pitcher as four of the next seven Rockies got hits, scoring twice, and he was removed after 85 pitches.
"I think we gave them too much credit," said Federowicz. "They were aggressive the first time through and I figured they would be more aggressive the next time. It's on both of us. We were trying to be too perfect, trying to get them to chase pitches. He's at his best when he throws his pitches for strike one."
J.P. Howell, who hadn't appeared since Aug. 24 because of the flu and game situations, pitched a perfect seventh inning. Paco Rodriguez took over in the eighth, allowed a leadoff pinch-homer to Josh Rutledge and walked Dexter Fowler. Ronald Belisario relieved and DJ LeMahieu bunted Fowler to second, but Troy Tulowitzki lined into a double play.
With Jansen unavailable after pitching three straight games, Belisario stayed in for the bottom of the ninth after the Dodgers scored their three gift runs in the top of the inning. Belisario couldn't finish the ninth and Withrow got the final out for the save.