The big stage proved too big for the Rockies.
With a chance to throw a gut punch to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ chance for their ninth straight National League West title, the Rockies blew a 5-3 lead and ultimately lost, 7-5, in 10 innings Thursday afternoon at Coors Field.
With Justin Turner on second base to open the 10th, Max Muncy ripped a two-run homer to center off Rockies’ rookie Lucas Gilbreath. The lefty entered the 10th inning having pitched 17 scoreless outings dating back to Aug. 8. But Muncy ambushed Gilbreath’s first-pitch fastball for his 35th homer of the season.
Colorado took a 5-3 lead in the fifth on a two-run homer by Raimel Tapia off Dodgers ace Max Scherzer and held a lead until the ninth. Tapia’s blast off the second-deck facade in right field was his first home run since May 21. Tapia connected on Scherzer’s full-count cutter.
The Dodgers took two of three games in the crucial series as they attempt to keep pace in the National League West with San Francisco. Los Angeles entered the game trailing the Giants by two games with 10 games left in the season.
L.A. put the Rockies on edge in the eighth against reliever Jhoulys Chacin. Trea Turner tagged Chacin for a single and scored on Pollock’s double, but Chacin got pinch-hitter Will Smith to fly out to center, preserving Colorado’s 5-4 lead.
But in the ninth, the Dodgers tied the game, 5-5, on three consecutive two-out singles off closer Carlos Estevez. Seager’s hard comebacker ricocheted off Estevez’s right leg for a hit, advancing Mookie Betts to second. Estevez, though limping, stayed in the game but gave up the game-tying single to Turner.
Colorado starter Kyle Freeland’s performance wasn’t always pretty, but the lefty hung tough for six innings and he outpitched Scherzer, a leading candidate for the National League Cy Young Award.
Freeland, who engaged in an animated debate with home-plate umpire Ed Hickox over balls and strikes, gave up three runs on eight hits. He walked one and struck out five.
Scherzer entered the game looking invincible, carrying a 7-0 record with 0.78 ERA in nine starts with Los Angeles since he was acquired from the Nationals at the trade deadline. In 58 innings with the Dodgers, he had given up just five earned runs.
But Colorado scored five against Scherzer in just five innings, wrapping out six hits. Scherzer needed 102 pitches (69 strikes) to make it through his short outing.
The Dodgers ambushed Freeland for three runs in the second, stringing together a leadoff double by AJ Pollock and RBI single by Austin Barnes and a two-run doink hit to shallow right by Seager.
Colorado responded immediately in the bottom of the frame. Back-to-back singles by Trevor Story and C.J. Cron set the table for Sam Hilliard’s run-scoring double. Then Freeland got some payback by doinking his own two-run single to left, tying the game 3-3.
The Rockies open a three-game weekend series against the Giants on Friday night at Coors.
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