LOS ANGELES -- Walker Buehler's first obstacle Wednesday night was making sure his yearning to perform well did not become his undoing.Fighting a rush of energy in the early going, the rookie right-hander was able to show yet another example of his maturation, striking out a career-best 12 batters in
LOS ANGELES -- Walker Buehler's first obstacle Wednesday night was making sure his yearning to perform well did not become his undoing.
Fighting a rush of energy in the early going, the rookie right-hander was able to show yet another example of his maturation, striking out a career-best 12 batters in a 5-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium.
Yasiel Puig's go-ahead three-home run in the seventh inning was the big blow, but it never would have happened had Buehler not showed composure beyond his 24 years when the Dodgers got off to a rocky start.
The Rockies scored two unearned runs off Buehler in the first inning, so he went into attack mode and gave up just one more hit over the remainder of his start.
"Sometimes adrenaline can mask some stuff and when that happens, you feel like Superman a little bit and try to do too much," Buehler said. "In those later innings I was trying to settle in and throw it where I wanted it."
The Dodgers increased their National League West lead to 2 1/2 games, while completing a three-game sweep of the Rockies.
The Rockies' Charlie Blackmon singled to lead off the game, extending his hitting streak to 12 games. DJ LeMahieu reached base on a Justin Turner throwing error and David Dahl walked.
Buehler nearly escaped the jam, getting Nolan Arenado on a strikeout and Gerardo Parra on a fielder's choice, with Blackmon cut down at the plate. But Ian Desmond delivered a two-run single with two outs.
Manager Dave Roberts asked left-hander Zachary Rosscup to start warming up in the bullpen. If it was a motivational tool, Buehler said he didn't even see it.
Buehler's response was a strikeout of Ryan McMahon. And then the strikeouts kept coming.
Buehler had reached his previous career-best of nine strikeouts three times over his last five starts. His most recent nine-strikeout game came Friday when he pitched eight scoreless innings against the Cardinals.
He now has 37 strikeouts over his last four starts and 50 over his last six. Going back even further, he has 72 strikeouts and 18 walks over his last 55 2/3 innings.
"For him to be really stressed in that first inning but to come back and get a career high in punchouts, and give us length, shows his character, his guile and everything," Roberts said. "We needed that out of him."
Over his last nine starts, Buehler is 3-1 with a 1.62 ERA and has limited opposing batters to a .158 average.
While the victory is the immediate bonus from Wednesday, getting Buehler to experience an early adrenaline rush and figure out how to get through it only figures to help as things move forward into a potential postseason berth.
"I'd rather give up two in the first of a game like this and pitch OK and get picked up by my team now than in the playoffs," Buehler said. "There are certain times that just doesn't fly and there are certain times when your team can pick you up and tonight they did."
Buehler lines up for at least one more start, next week at Arizona. The Dodgers could use the two upcoming off-days to get Buehler a second start over the closing weekend at San Francisco.
Doug Padilla is a contributor to MLB.com.