LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp's push for a spot in the All-Star Game came at the expense of Rockies reliever Adam Ottavino -- himself in the conversation for the Midsummer Classic -- on Sunday afternoon.
Kemp's eighth-inning leadoff homer -- just the second Ottavino has served this season -- gave the Dodgers a 6-4 victory and kept the Rockies from sweeping the three-game weekend set at Dodger Stadium.
"I threw a fastball. I hadn't thrown one yet, thought it would work out. But he was all over it," Ottavino said. "I guess he was looking for it."
Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado (a sure-bet All-Star) launched his 21st homer to move into the National League lead -- one ahead of the Nationals' Bryce Harper.
The Rockies were foiled in their attempt to climb back to .500 in a game that featured a couple of sloppy plays from a normally clean defense. Still, Colorado won 2 of 3 from Los Angeles.
"If we can do that every series, we'll be fine," Rockies manager Bud Black said.
Sunday was a good argument for Kemp, who also had an RBI double in the third and an RBI single in the fifth that tied the game at 4. While Ottavino's 1.88 ERA as a setup man has him under All-Star consideration even though those nods often go to closers, he absorbed two of the losses on the 3-3 NL West road trip to San Francisco and Los Angeles.
"I'm pitching good; I don't really care," Ottavino said. "I executed everything today except one or two pitches. Things happen."
Kemp crushed a 1-1 fastball to center. Ottavino is not the only Rockies pitcher who has struggled with him. In his last 14 games against the Rockies, playing for the Dodgers, Padres and Braves, Kemp is hitting .438 (21 for 48) with four homers, 11 RBIs and a 1.222 OPS.
Ottavino never regained control of the inning.
Yasiel Puig ended up with a one-out double on a hard liner that left fielder Gerardo Parra had a hard time corralling on the bounce. Then, Joc Pederson hit a roller that DJ LeMahieu dove for in short right. LeMahieu couldn't gather himself for a throw to first. But when LeMahieu lobbed the ball to first baseman Ian Desmond, Puig dashed home for a two-run lead for closer Kenley Jansen, who fanned two in a clean ninth for his 22nd save.
"There's probably two guys in the league that are going to take a chance like that, and he's one of them," LeMahieu said of Puig. "I had my eyes on him, saw him dancing out to third and said, 'All right, I'll get it to Des,' and he just had a really good read on it."
Kemp's fifth-inning single also featured some sloppy play. It was a line shot to left, and Parra's throw was offline. However, Arenado, as cutoff man, let the throw slip under his glove and catcher Tom Murphy couldn't keep it in front of him, either. That allowed runners to move to second and third for Cody Bellinger's RBI groundout.
The play made reliever Chris Rusin's stats in 2 1/3 innings not reflective of how he pitched.
"We let them advance on a ball that got through a couple of guys -- that's not sound, fundamental baseball," Black said. "But I thought he threw the ball well overall. The results are going to show a couple of runs."
The Rockies also got 1 2/3 scoreless innings from Scott Oberg, and Mike Dunn replaced Ottavino with runners at first and third and escaped with no further scoring.
Starter Chad Bettis left after three innings with what the club called a "hot spot" (not a blister, but a problem nonetheless) and the Rockies up, 3-2. Bettis is not clear what the next move in his recovery is. Arenado's homer came off Dodgers starter Thomas Stripling for a 4-2 lead in the fifth.
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In June, the bullpen yielded a 7.38 ERA, went 2-9, and converted seven of 17 save chances, and those stats are reflective of the quality of the work. But the bullpen was overall solid in having to eat five innings -- some unexpected -- Sunday.
Especially keen was Oberg, who came on with a man on and one out in the sixth. Murphy caught Austin Barnes stealing, then Oberg fanned pinch-hitter John Forsythe. With the score still tied at 4, he gave up a one-out Player Page for Max Muncy single but ended the inning by working Justin Turner into a double play. It's the type of pressure pitching the Rockies will need to climb into the playoff hunt.
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Raimel Tapia, making his first start of the season in center field after being called up from Triple-A Albuquerque on Saturday, made his first fly ball an adventure.
After Bettis walked the game's first two batters, Turner flied to the warning track for what looked like an easy play. But the ball bounced off Tapia's glove, off his right shoulder and off his face before he juggled it off his bare left hand and gloved right. He finally trapped it in the crook of his elbow.
Lefty Kyle Freeland (7-6, 3.29 ERA) -- the Rockies' most consistent pitcher this season -- will open a three-game home set against the Giants and lefty Madison Bumgarner (1-2, 2.51). Both pitched seven scoreless innings when they met at AT&T Park on Wednesday night.