Dodgers starter Ricky Nolasco delivers a pitch during the first inning… (Jack Dempsey / Associated…)
Starting pitching continues to drive the Dodgers on one of the great runs in baseball history.
They won again Tuesday, downing the Colorado Rockies, 7-4, at Coors field for their sixth consecutive victory. The Dodgers have had nine winning streaks of at least four games since they turned their season around June 22 -- that explains their 53-13 stretch.
And the one consistent factor through all that has been the starting pitchers. Tuesday it was Ricky Nolasco’s turn.
BOX SCORE: Dodgers 7, Rockies 4
He went six strong innings, pushing his personal scoreless inning streak to 20 before surrendering a run in the fifth. Since being acquired from the Miami Marlins on July 6, Nolasco is 7-1 with a 2.27 earned-run average as a Dodger. The Dodgers are 9-2 in his 11 starts.
And so on it goes, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu, and now Nolasco. Since July 26, the Dodgers' rotation is 24-5 with a 2.05 ERA.
They won Tuesday despite Manager Don Mattingly sitting four regulars, despite using reliever J.P. Howell for the first time in eight days and despite reliever Paco Rodriguez giving up his first run 14 appearances.
The Dodgers scored three times in the second inning off Jhoulys Chacin, who had not allowed a hit for 6 2/3 innings in his last start against the San Francisco Giants, to take the early lead.
An Andre Ethier double, a walk to Mark Ellis and an infield single by Skip Schumaker loaded the bases. Tim Federowicz hit a sacrifice fly deep enough to center to get the first run home. After a Nolasco sacrifice bunt advanced the runners, Carl Crawford singled them both in.
Crawford scored in the fifth after leading off with a base hit. Nick Punto singled – one of his four hits – to move Crawford to third and Adrian Gonzalez lifted a fly to medium center that was still deep enough to bring in the run.
The Dodgers took their 4-0 lead and hung on. The Rockies scored one off Nolasco in the fifth and sixth innings, with Rodriguez surrendering a solo home run to pinch-hitter Josh Rutledge, the first run he has given up since Aug. 1.
A 4-3 game turned 7-3 in the ninth, when the Dodgers received three gift runs. With two outs and the bases loaded, Colorado left fielder Charlie Culberson, normally a second baseman, dropped a Mark Ellis drive in the gap for an error.
And on the Dodgers go, now 36-8 since the All-Star break. The victory assures them of winning the three-game series against the Rockies, leaving them 17-1-4 in the last 22 series.