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Dodgers capitalize on mistakes to beat Colorado, 3-2

L.A. wins its fourth in a row. Clayton Kershaw isn't his sharpest but gets the victory to improve to 12-4 as the Rockies' defense stumbles.

July 26, 2011|By Dylan Hernandez

The Dodgers are soaring up the standings.

OK, so maybe they aren't soaring as much as the Colorado Rockies are crashing.

But with a 3-2 victory over the Rockies on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers moved to within a win of something that once felt out of reach.

Third place.

Behind Clayton Kershaw's fourth consecutive victory and Matt Kemp's two-run double, the Dodgers closed their deficit to the third-place Rockies to half a game.

The Dodgers have made up four games in four days on the Rockies, who started the season as the favorites to win the National League West.

Kemp downplayed the magnitude of the achievement, saying, "We're not really worrying about what place we're in right now."

That's because the Dodgers remain nine games under .500 and 121/2 games behind the first-place San Francisco Giants.

Cheered on by an announced crowd of 50,664 fans who were drawn to the ballpark by the promise of a Fernando Valenzuela bobblehead doll, Kershaw improved to 12-4, but wasn't his sharpest.

He threw a career-high 125 pitches to get through 62/3 innings, during which he held the Rockies to two runs and eight hits.

"Just from the start, I was falling behind in counts, struggling all around," Kershaw said. "I was fortunate to get through that many."

Kershaw departed with Troy Tulowitzki at the plate and the equalizing run at third base in the seventh inning. Matt Guerrier forced Tulowitzki to ground out weakly to catcher Dioner Navarro.

The 23-year-old left-hander has won six of his last seven starts dating back to June 20. He increased his season strikeout total to 173, reclaiming the major-league lead from Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers.

The Rockies' defense was as significant a contributor to Kershaw's latest triumph as was the Dodgers' lineup.

"When other teams make mistakes, we have to start capitalizing on those mistakes," Kemp said. "That's what we did tonight."

Ty Wigginton dropped a routine fly ball hit his way by Rafael Furcal to start the fourth inning. Furcal reached second on the error.

"I'm really happy there that Raffy's running hard," Manager Don Mattingly said.

Andre Ethier drew a walk, which was followed by a double to right-center by Kemp.

The runs batted in were Kemp's 74th and 75th of the season.

Kemp reached third on a groundout by Aaron Miles and scored on a fortunate sacrifice fly by Juan Rivera. Backtracking second baseman Mark Ellis caught Rivera's fly ball in shallow right field, only to trip over right fielder Ryan Spilborghs to give Kemp the opening to dash home.

"I went back to third base to tag up, just to fake like I was going to go home," Kemp said. "When I saw them collide, I kept going."

The three-run cushion proved to be necessary.

The Rockies took back a run in the fifth inning on a two-out single by Todd Helton. Helton pushed in another run in the seventh inning, when his groundout drove in Eric Young Jr. to cut the Dodgers' lead to 3-2.

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