Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
DENVER— Jon Gray escaped an early jam and went on to pitch a gem — just what Colorado needed to snap a long string of sub-par play.
Gray allowed three hits over eight innings to win for the first time in a month, and the Rockies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-1 Monday night for just their third win in 11 games this season against the NL champions. It was Colorado’s sixth win in 24 games overall.
The right-hander issued successive walks to start the second before quashing the threat by striking out A.J. Pollock, Alex Verdugo and Will Smith.
“There’s been times in the past where that inning has gotten away from him, but he came back and struck out the side,” Rockies manager Bud Black said.
“From there, he reeled it in and pitched really well. Those three strikeouts were huge for Jon, gave him some confidence and momentum.”
Gray said the walks were a wake-up call.
“I just realized I wasn’t challenging people like I wanted to,” he said. “I needed to make them earn everything they get and if they’re going to get on base, it’s because they’re going to get a hit in the zone. So, I was like, ‘OK we’ve got to get back at it and challenge them.’”
Nolan Arenado had a two-run single during a five-run fifth inning, David Dahl hit a two-run homer in the eighth and Ian Desmond finished a home run short of the cycle for the Rockies. Colorado was 44-39 going into the final day of June before going on an extended slide.
“This was a big win and all the credit goes to Jon, shutting down a lineup like that,” Dahl said, adding that the Rockies pitching and offense finally seemed to be in sync.
“It hasn’t clicked on all cylinders,” Dahl said. “When hitting would do well, the pitching would struggle. When pitching would do well, hitters would struggle. Tonight we kind of put it all together and it was a great game.”
Gray (10-7) allowed one run, struck out six and walked three, joining Jorge De La Rosa as the only pitchers in team history with at least 10 wins in four seasons. Gray has done it four years in a row. He had been 0-2 in four starts since beating the Dodgers at home June 29.
He didn’t allow a run until the eighth, when Smith doubled and scored on Joc Pederson’s infield groundout. Pederson was pulled from the game by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts for not hustling on the play.
“He was really good tonight and we couldn’t get him,” Roberts said of Gray.
Wade Davis finished the four-hitter.
Kenta Maeda (7-8) allowed six runs and seven hits in four-plus innings for the Dodgers, who lead the NL West by 14 games over second-place San Francisco. He had been 5-1 with a 3.12 ERA in 10 previous games at Coors Field, including seven starts.
Raimel Tapia hit a go-ahead single in the second, and the Rockies sent 11 batters to the plate in the fifth. The first seven reached against Maeda, including Gray, who drew a walk.
“He was trying to bunt and give himself up,” Maeda, speaking through an interpreter, said of Gray. “After the walk, I gave up some solid hits. And the error hurt. I didn’t pitch well through trouble.”
Dahl had an RBI single and Story reached on first baseman Pederson’s error before Arenado’s single boosted the lead to 4-0. Ryan McMahon chased Maeda with a two-run double.
Colorado LHP Kyle Freeland (2-8, 7.00 ERA) starts Tuesday. He is 0-2 with a 6.43 ERA since rejoining the Rockies after a five-week stay in the minors. LHP Julio Urias is set to start for the Dodgers.