DENVER -- The Colorado Rockies are very serious about this National League Wild Card bid, as they showed the Dodgers again Wednesday night by slugging five home runs, two by Carlos González before he was later injured, and coasting to a 12-2 rout at Coors Field.
Gonzalez suffered what he said was a minor sprain of his left ankle when he grounded out to end the seventh. But he was walking, with the ankle heavily taped, after the game, and said he hopes to play Thursday, when the Rockies go for a sweep. And he believes the Rockies -- an MLB-best 14-5 since the All-Star break and above .500 after the Midsummer Classic for the first time since 2010 -- are just beginning their surge.
"It's a big step," said Gonzalez, whose club is three games out of the second NL Wild Card. "But we still have work to do. We have a special opportunity right now and we're trying to take advantage."
Rockies manager Walt Weiss said: "We didn't go into the break with a great feeling, but I feel really good about the way the guys regrouped and came out of the break with a sense of urgency. We talked about playing every game like it's Game 7, and that's where we're at."
Nolan Arenado, Mark Reynolds and DJ LeMahieu joined Gonzalez in the home run derby, four of them off Brock Stewart, who was making his second Major League start for the depleted Dodgers rotation and lost a rookie matchup to Tyler Anderson (4-3, 4-1 at home). Gonzalez, Arenado and Reynolds had three RBIs each.
"Those guys the last couple of days threw the ball well," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said about Colorado's starting pitchers. "You've got to tip your hat to Jon Gray yesterday and this kid today, they threw well and kept us at bay."
The Dodgers, who still lead the NL Wild Card race, scored on Justin Turner's first-inning two-run home run. Stewart, charged with nine runs in four-plus innings, was the third consecutive Dodgers starting pitcher unable to go deeper than that into a game.
"Before the game in the bullpen, everything was working, and I got in the game and everything stayed flat," said Stewart. "Just an off night, for sure."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Happy end of slump, and Happy Birthday: Celebrations started in the first inning. Arenado's homer ended a 2-for-23 slump, and snapped a 40-homerless-at-bat dry spell. Reynolds celebrated his 33rd birthday two batters later with his 12th homer this season.
"I don't know if it's a different feeling," Reynolds said. "Maybe I'm mad because I'm older and my days are numbered. I want to do the best I can while I'm still wearing a jersey."
Danger squeeze: Down by three runs with one out in the second and runners on the corners, Stewart dropped a bunt back to Anderson, but on the "safety squeeze," Joc Pederson stopped midway between third and home and was erased in a rundown.
CarGo fire: The Rockies' surge has coincided with Gonzalez's 15-game hit streak, which he nailed down with a solo homer in the fifth. It's the team's longest streak this season.
Teenage blues: Top Dodgers prospect Julio Urías, recalled before the game, was forced into mop-up duty and allowed three runs in three innings, including Gonzalez's second homer.
"Obviously you'd like it to be more of a game with a chance to win, but he gave us three innings to give the bullpen an extra day instead of another day using six relievers," said Roberts. "Julio did what he was supposed to do for us."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
LeMahieu already set a career high in extra-base hits for a season on July 18, and he set a career high of seven home runs Wednesday with his fifth-inning shot off Stewart.
"Some more balls are leaving the yard," LeMahieu said. "I'm just hitting the ball harder, but not trying to do anything to create power."
Dodgers:Kenta Maeda returns to Coors Field on Thursday at 5:40 p.m. PT, the site of one of his best starts of the year, in which he threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings. He also limited the Rockies to one run in 6 2/3 innings in Los Angeles. He's 6-2 in 10 road starts and 5-2 in 10 starts against NL West opponents.
Rockies: Rockies right-hander Tyler Chatwood, who will start Thursday night at 6:40 p.m. MT as the Rockies attempt to sweep the three-game series, has held opponents to one run and four hits in 12 innings while winning his last two starts. But he also has walked 12.
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