LOS ANGELES (AP) — Juan Nicasio took the mound at Dodger Stadium, trying to extend his string of 13 1-3 consecutive scoreless at the ballpark.
That lasted until the third, when he gave up three runs – including a home run by Matt Kemp that right fielder Brandon Barnes just missed by inches.
Nicasio was charged with five runs and eight hits in 4 1-3 innings, and the Rockies were held in check by Paul Maholm in a 6-3 loss Saturday night.
“It usually comes down to getting strike one,” manager Walt Weiss said. “When you get strike one, you can execute scouting reports and attack weaknesses of hitters. When you don’t get strike one, it’s tough to do.”
Dee Gordon led off the Dodgers’ third with a triple and Yasiel Puig was hit by a pitch. Gordon scored and Puig sped to third on Hanley Ramirez’s fielder’s choice grounder to shortstop. Adrian Gonzalez then delivered a sacrifice fly.
Kemp followed with a towering drive to right field that barely cleared Barnes’ outstretched glove as he made a leaping try. Kemp initially thought he was robbed of his fourth homer – as did the crowd of 45,241 – until Barnes opened his empty glove. A relieved Kemp then continued his jog around the bases with a huge grin after his second homer in 52 at-bats since the pair he hit against San Francisco’s Matt Cain on April 6 at Dodger Stadium.
“I thought he caught the ball. Then I saw him slam his glove on the ground and that showed me that he didn’t, so I was happy about that,” Kemp said. “That was a good swing. I’ve got to continue to consistently drive the ball to right field to be successful. I’m going to be good. I’m going to get in my groove. I’m not having as many good at-bats as I should be having, but I’ll work out of it and everything’s going to go as planned.”
Puig added a two-out RBI single in the fourth – the first time this season that he’s driven in runs in back-to-back games after his home run and RBI single Friday night. Gonzalez led off the fifth with his 1,500th career hit, an opposite-field homer to left that gave the Dodgers a 5-2 lead.
“Today I didn’t have command of my fastball,” Nicasio said. “I go deep in games when I have better command of my fastball and throw the first pitch for a strike. I was behind the hitters, and they’ve got great hitters.”
The Rockies opened the scoring in the third on Barnes’ two-out RBI single. They got another run in the fifth on Justin Morneau’s RBI single, following a double to center by Wilin Rosario that Kemp lost in the twilight. But second baseman Gordon kept the damage to a minimum when he robbed DJ LeMahieu of a ground single up the middle with a diving play and started an inning-ending double play with a backhanded flip to shortstop Justin Turner.
Maholm (1-2) threw 84 pitches over seven innings, allowing two runs and six hits in his fourth start with the defending NL West champions. The veteran left-hander who signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract as a free agent in February, had lost his previous seven decisions against the Rockies and was 1-8 with a 6.63 ERA in 10 career starts against them.
“I can’t tell you I was the most confident person going to the mound, knowing my history against them,” Maholm said.
Chris Withrow, a first-round draft pick by the Dodgers in 2007, relieved Maholm with a 5-2 lead and walked the bases loaded. But Carlos Gonzalez, who has hit 15 homers against the Dodgers since the start of the 2010 season, struck out on a 1-2 pitch and Tulowitzki whiffed on a 2-2 delivery.
“That’s a perfect situation for me and Tulo to change the game, but it didn’t happen tonight,” Gonzalez said.
Maholm said: “Obviously, you don’t like to see the bases loaded with those guys coming up. But you’ve got confidence in Chris because with the stuff he has, he can strike out anybody and get out of anything he gets himself into.”
Puig added an insurance run in the ninth with a ground-rule double, and Kenley Jansen got three outs for his ninth save after Brian Wilson walked the first two batters in the ninth – one of whom scored on a bases-loaded groundout by Charlie Culberson.
“It’s tough playing from behind against that club,” Weiss said.
NOTES: Colorado RHP Chris Martin made his big league debut with a scoreless seventh inning, a day after the team purchased his contract from Triple-A Colorado Springs. His first three batters were Adrian Gonzalez, Kemp and Andre Ethier, who have hit a combined total of 547 home runs. … Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado extended his career-best hitting streak to 16 games with a sixth-inning single. … Ramirez left the game because of a bruised right thumb. X-rays were negative. … Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw will throw another bullpen session Monday, following the 56-pitch minor league rehab start he had Friday night with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga. … Maholm has induced a major league-high 190 groundball double plays since the start of the 2006 season.