Standing in the on-deck circle and with first base open, Carlos Gonzalez briefly wondered if the Los Angeles Dodgers would pitch around pinch hitter Jason Giambi to face him.
Sorry, CarGo. No chance.
Gonzalez had already hit two towering homers off NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw in the game and the Dodgers wanted no part of him at the plate.
So, they went after Giambi and he launched a three-run homer off Scott Elbert in the ninth inning, lifting the Rockies to an 8-5 win over the Dodgers on Wednesday.
Giambi was simply in an enviable spot.
With first base open and one out, the Dodgers really had no choice but to pitch to him with Gonzalez waiting in the wings.
”It’s a dream spot to be in — that situation with CarGo behind you,” Giambi said. ”It makes a tough decision for people. You’re not out of the woods walking me right there. You load the bases for CarGo? He’s been so hot. I figured I’d get something to hit.”
He did, too — a juicy four-seam fastball.
”He did what he’s supposed to do,” Elbert said. ”He got me. Tip your hat.”
The Rockies took a 2-1 lead into the late innings before it turned wild at Coors Field.
The Dodgers scored twice in the eighth, but Colorado bounced back with three in the bottom half for a 5-3 lead. Los Angeles tied it with two runs in the ninth.
It was the sixth multihomer game of Gonzalez’s career and helped the Rockies take two of three against the NL-leading Dodgers.
Gonzalez hit a solo shot in the fourth on a fastball from Kershaw and then lined an 85 mph slider just over the right-field fence in the eighth for a two-run homer. Backup catcher Wilin Rosario also hit a solo shot off Kershaw, who surrendered three homers in a game for the first time in his career.
Kershaw lasted 7 1/3 innings and gave up a season-high five runs. He was on the hook for his first loss since Aug. 7, but escaped with a no decision when the Dodgers rallied in the ninth off closer Rafael Betancourt (1-0).
Betancourt gave up a single to Adam Kennedy to start the inning and then struck out the next two batters. Rather than challenge big-hitting Matt Kemp, Betancourt intentionally walked him to face Dee Gordon.
The plan backfired as Gordon delivered a two-run double to right. Maybe earlier in the game, Gordon’s hit might have been just a single. But with Michael Cuddyer playing deep in right, a hustling Kemp was waved home by third base coach Tim Wallach and just beat the relay throw to score the tying run.
Given the chance to do it all over again, manager Jim Tracy wouldn’t change a thing.
Well, except the outcome.
”I certainly would not have slept very well tonight if I let Matt Kemp hit and if in fact he hits the ball out of the ballpark,” Tracy said. ”That’s on me. It didn’t work out.”
But Giambi came to the rescue.
Jamey Wright (1-1) walked the first two batters he faced in the Colorado ninth and Jonathan Herrera bunted them over. The Dodgers brought in an extra infielder from the outfield, but it didn’t matter as Giambi, batting for Dexter Fowler, met Elbert with a shot to center field.
It was the eighth pinch-hit homer of Giambi’s career and fifth as a member of the Rockies.
”I’m grateful for the opportunity,” Giambi said. ”That’s what I’m here for, try to get those big hits.”
Drew Pomeranz received a hard-luck no decision after the bullpen couldn’t hold a late one-run lead. Pomeranz gave up one run and four hits over 6 2/3 innings.
Relying on a four-seam fastball, Pomeranz struck out five before being relieved in the seventh with two on and two outs. Matt Belisle got former Rockies infielder Mark Ellis to fly out.
Belisle then started off the eighth and surrendered a single. Rex Brothers entered the game and gave up a single to Kemp, followed by Jerry Hairston’s two-run double down the left-field line.
The Rockies tied it in their half of the eighth when Marco Scutaro led off with a single and was bunted over to second. Fowler followed with an RBI single. Soon after, Gonzalez gave the Rockies the lead with his two-run shot. He has been locked in at the plate of late, hitting seven homers and driving in 18 runs since April 24.
As for two homers off Kershaw, one of the top pitchers in the game, Gonzalez said he was just trying to stay patient.
”He’s a great pitcher,” said Gonzalez, who struck out to end the game with a runner at third the night before. ”It’s a nice comeback.”
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was livid with a call by Tim Welke at first that ended a threat in the sixth. With a runner on, Hairston sent a roller into the hole that third baseman Chris Nelson snared and came up throwing. But his throw was off target and pulled Todd Helton off the bag.
Welke called Hairston out and Mattingly ran from the dugout with his arms extended in exasperation. He had words with Welke, before pleading with plate umpire Paul Schrieber. The call stood and the inning was over.
”It really doesn’t matter at this point,” Mattingly said after the game. ”I think he knows he missed it. I think Helton told him he was off the bag. We had a chance to get a run there. I just don’t think he realized he came off the bag.”
NOTES: Despite his prodigious offensive numbers, Kemp was walked intentionally for the first time this season in the third. … It was Colorado’s eighth comeback win of the season.