Rockies stymied by Kershaw, Denver rain
Tulo's homer is all bats manage in weather-shortened finale
DENVER -- As the Dodgers were taking the field for the bottom of the fifth on a stormy Sunday afternoon at Coors Field, a deafening clap of thunder froze them in their tracks. Some were ready to join the fans in the rush for cover.
But the game played on, and in the top of the sixth, it was Los Angeles shortstop Hanley Ramirez who brought the thunder with a solo homer that flew over the concourse beyond the left-field bleachers, an estimated 461 feet from home plate. That set off a four-run frame, after which the umpires called for a rain delay. There was no resumption play after a 95-minute delay, and the Rockies took a 6-1 rain-shortened loss long after many of the 38,111 in attendance called it a day.
"The thunder scared me. I'm not going to lie. It was pretty loud," Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon said. "I was a little surprised that we didn't pull the tarp right then. Maybe the lightning wasn't a danger or something, I don't know."
The Rockies (29-33) dropped two of three to the Dodgers and would need a four-game sweep of the Braves this week to go .500 on their 10-game homestand, scheduled to continue on Monday night.
The Rockies broke an eight-game losing streak Saturday, but have dropped 13 of their last 16.
Rain began before first pitch, and the Dodgers sloshed to two runs -- Jorge De La Rosa (6-5) walked Chone Figgins and Ramirez to start the game, and Matt Kemp tripled with one out in what would become a 35-pitch first inning.
From there, De La Rosa would find his water level and strike out eight in 5 1/3 innings. But the rough start, two walks in the bottom of the fifth, and the nine-strikeout performance in five innings by Dodgers lefty ace Clayton Kershaw (5-2) did in the Rockies.
"Jorge walked the first two, had a 35-pitch first, but threw really well after that," said manager Walt Weiss. "Then two walks on the tail end of the outing scored also. He threw the ball really well, but again, it's always tough when you're playing from behind against a guy like Kershaw."
The sixth inning is one De La Rosa has to wish had never been played. Figgins led off with a lineout, Ramirez hit his 10th homer of the season, then De La Rosa walked Adrian Gonzalez and Kemp.
Reliever Matt Belisle waded into the game, struck out Scott Van Slyke, then gave up a two-run double to Jamie Romak and a one-run single to Miguel Rojas. The game was halted when the half-inning ended. Because the Dodgers had the lead going into the inning, the stats counted, giving Romak and Rojas each their first Major League hits and RBIs.
De La Rosa threw seven innings in his previous start but absorbed a 4-2 loss to the D-backs. Now De La Rosa has suffered two straight losses at Coors Field for the first time since losing his first six starts there back in 2005. The Rockies have dropped two straight De La Rosa starts for the first time since July 29 and Aug. 3, 2013.
It's also the second time in De La Rosa's last three starts at Coors Field in which rain has been a factor. He threw three hitless innings against the Giants on May 22 before that game was suspended.
Kershaw held the Rockies to three hits. One of those hits, however, was Troy Tulowitzki's first-pitch home run -- his 17th dinger of the season -- to lead off the fourth inning.
Besides flinching during the big thunder rumble, Kershaw welcomed the weather.
"It's no secret that I haven't pitched well here in the past, and I wanted to establish the fastball, especially with a two-run lead early. Make them beat you," said Kershaw, who had 5.24 ERA at Coors Field coming in.
"I talked to Jamey Wright [a Dodgers reliever who pitched in Colorado for six years] and he said the rain sometimes helps, the moisture on the ball helps with the break."
Kershaw's first four strikeouts, of Blackmon, Brandon Barnes, Tulowitzki and Drew Stubbs, were called by plate umpire Tripp Gibson. The message was clear: Swing the bat.
"He knows how to pitch, and he knows how to do his own thing," said Rosario, who went 1-for-2 with a swinging strikeout. "The umpire might help him on a couple of pitches, but that guy still throws strikes. You've got to be aggressive with him, so you have to go ahead and swing at pitches close to the zone with him because you don't know what pitch is going to be for a strike and what pitch is going to be for a ball."
Umpires nearly pulled the tarp and continued play. Not long after a resumption time was announced, the storm cell that had dumped rain on Coors Field backed up instead of moving out of the area. Umpires then called the game.