Matzek shows his mettle as Rockies thump Dodgers
Rookie lefty minimizes damage while Dickerson's four RBIs lead rout
DENVER -- Rockies rookie left-handed pitcher Tyler Matzek spent the last month proving he could control games, but on Tuesday night he showed he could manage one.
Matzek gave up 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings, but for the sixth straight start he kept his opponent under four runs. This time, the National League West-leading Dodgers managed just two off Matzek, and the Rockies ended their losing streak at seven games with a 10-4 victory in front of 28,983 at Coors Field.
After pitching smoothly for the first three innings, Matzek survived despite having the first two batters reach in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. His performance helped prevent the Rockies from matching their longest losing streak of the season -- not that he grasped that stat.
"I didn't even know what our record was going into the game," Matzek said. "My thought process is the same for each game. Give up as few runs as possible and help the team win."
In most ways, this is a lost season for the Rockies, who are last in the NL West. But they appear to have found an effective starter in Matzek, 23, their top pick in the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Capistrano Valley High in Mission Viejo, Calif. Matzek showed growth Tuesday by figuring out he couldn't command his sinker, slider or changeup, and going to a curveball he had used sparingly in recent starts.
"He's really come a long ways, really found himself some identity," said catcher Michael McKenry, who had a double, scored a run and singled in another. "Today was a great example. He pitched out of a ton of jams. He didn't have his best stuff."
Manager Walt Weiss said, "He [Matzek] is taking it and running with it. The kid's got a quiet confidence."
The Rockies also have found a productive bat in Corey Dickerson, who delivered four RBIs. He launched his 23rd home run of the season, for two runs off losing pitcher Dan Haren (13-11) in the fourth, and added a two-run triple in the eighth.
Dickerson's homer flew high into the night sky.
"I didn't know if it was gong to get out or not -- I squared it up, but I hit it straight up," Dickerson said.
In his previous five starts, Matzek (6-10) posted a 1.75 ERA. Those games included a three-hit shutout of the Padres on Sept. 5, two games of seven innings and two others in which he pitched into the seventh. Tuesday's game seemed headed in that direction when he held the Dodgers -- who lost for just the fourth time in their last 11 games -- scoreless for the first five innings and had a 5-0 lead.
But a Dodgers team that had scored 32 runs in the previous three games gave Matzek trouble.
"They hit mistakes real well, so you've got to put the ball in the right spots," Matzek said. "I thought I did an OK job at that tonight -- not the best, not the worst."
Matt Kemp and Scott Van Slyke singled, then Justin Turner drove in both on a double to open the sixth. Center fielder Drew Stubbs and shortstop Josh Rutledge made strong relay throws after Juan Uribe's double to cut down Turner at the plate. After a walk to A.J. Ellis, righty Tommy Kahnle entered and struck out pinch-hitter Hanley Ramirez swinging and Yasiel Puig looking, with a Dee Gordon infield single in between.
A night after blowing numerous chances while being blown out by the Dodgers, 11-3, the Rockies were much better at capitalizing. Justin Morneau delivered an RBI groundout and Rutledge scored on a wild pitch. Morneau finished 2-for-4 to lift his batting average to .316 -- one point behind the NL batting leader, the Pirates' Josh Harrison.
McKenry doubled to open the second and scored on DJ LeMahieu's fielder's choice.
"We executed very well early on," Weiss said. "Our offensive execution had been lacking. It was real good tonight."