A controversial balk call and Nolan Arenado throwing error loomed large as the Los Angeles Dodgers opened a weekend series at Coors Field with a 4-2 win over the Colorado Rockies. It pulled them to within a half-game of first place in the National League West.
Rockies reliever Chris Rusin issued back-to-back walks to start the fifth inning, and after striking out Cody Bellinger, was called for a balk on an inside pickoff move. Although the ensuing play was a force out at home plate, it eventually led to the Dodgers taking a lead.
Arenado was backed up by a chopper to the left of third base and rather than set his feet, the five-time Gold Glove Award winner flung the throw over to first base. It pulled Ian Desmond off the bag, allowing Max Muncy to score on the error.
The Rockies challenged the safe call at first base but to no avail. Yasiel Puig followed with an RBI single, extending the Dodgers’ lead to 4-2. Puig previously contributed at the plate with a solo home run in the second inning.
Although Clayton Kershaw was hardly sharp, he minimized damage through six innings. Matt Holiday’s leadoff home run in the second got the Rockies on the board, and it was followed by Desmond’s hustle double.
That was cashed in by Drew Butera on a game-tying single with one out. Kershaw stranded Butera by collecting back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning. He left two more on in the fourth, and stranded a leadoff single in the sixth.
Kershaw’s night came to a close at 98 pitches, with the two runs allowed on six hits, and seven strikeouts against one walk.
With Kenley Jansen not making the trip to Denver as a precaution, Caleb Ferguson was first to appear as the Dodgers bullpen looked to remain afloat.
He exited with two outs and runners at first and second base. Dylan Floro walked Arenado but escaped the bases-loaded jam by striking out Trevor Story. Fresh off the 10-day disabled list, Ross Stripling allowed a leadoff double to Holliday in the eighth.
He was removed after getting Desmond to groundout to second base. In came Scott Alexander, who successfully stranded the inherited runner at third base by retiring Carlos Gonzalez and pinch-hitter David Dahl.
Alexander allowed a leadoff single to Chris Iannetta in the bottom of the ninth and struck out Charlie Blackmon before giving way to Kenta Maeda. He completed the closer-by-committee approach by retiring DJ LeMahieu and striking out Arenado.