Dodgers 3, Rockies 1

DENVER (A P) – Ted Lilly’s masterful mix of pitches left the

Rockies perplexed at the plate, prevented Ubaldo Jimenez from

getting his 20th win and edged Colorado closer to elimination.

Lilly scattered four hits over eight innings Monday night in the

Los Angeles Dodgers’ 3-1 win over the reeling Rockies, who are five

games behind idle San Francisco in the NL West and 4 1/2 games

behind wild card-leading Atlanta with just six games remaining.

”If we were ugly before this game, now we’re bleeding,”

outfielder Carlos Gonzalez said.

Just a week and a-half ago, the Rockies were within a game of

first place and looked primed for another playoff run behind

Jimenez and the 1-2 punch of Gonzalez and fellow MVP contender Troy

Tulowitzki.

Now, they’ve lost seven of eight, and an offseason of

uncertainty looms ever closer.

”It’s just tough to lose, especially when you have Ubaldo on

the mound. You want to be able to score some runs for him,”

Gonzalez said. ”He just had a tough first inning and after that he

battled the whole game. He pitched great.”

Dodgers manager Joe Torre doesn’t relish the role of spoiler but

that’s all the Dodgers have left in their skipper’s final week at

the helm of a team that also underachieved thanks to injuries and

inconsistency. Los Angeles needs to win all its remaining games to

avoid the team’s first losing season since 2005.

”The only satisfaction is we’re doing our job,” Torre said.

”It’s not much of a role for us, but it’s something that at least

makes what we’re doing important.”

Casey Blake went 3 for 4 with two doubles, two RBIs and scored

Los Angeles’ other run. His biggest hit struck Jimenez in the right

foot and ricocheted over shortstop Tulowitzki’s head for a two-run

single in the first inning before Jimenez settled down and threw

six straight zeros on the scoreboard.

Blake said he normally gets jumpy against a hard-throwing ace

like Jimenez ”to cheat the fastball” but not on this night, when

he was calm and confident in the face of 98 mph heaters.

”I didn’t feel like he could throw his fastball by me, and as a

hitter that’s a great feeling to have,” he said.

Jimenez (19-8) has one more start, at St. Louis next weekend, to

try to become the franchise’s first 20-game winner.

”Hopefully, I get it,” said Jimenez, who was 15-1 at the

break, earning the starting job for the National League in the

All-Star game.

Back then, it seemed unfathomable that he might not reach 20

wins.

”I hope he gets it,” Torre said.

So does Blake.

”He’s had a rough go as of late but he seems like a great guy

that has a really good attitude and he’s had a solid year, so you

want to see him get his 20th,” Blake said. ”(Just) not against

us.”

Jimenez has been victimized by poor run support, shoddy defense

and his own control issues over the season’s second half. And

Monday night was another one in which Jimenez got very little

support despite a stellar effort – he gave up just three hits in

seven innings with four walks and six strikeouts.

His inability to locate the plate with his fastball cost him

during a 29-pitch first inning, too.

Lilly (9-12) was dominant. He had the Rockies either chasing his

offspeed pitches or frozen by his deceptive fastballs. He walked

two, and of his eight strikeouts, five were called.

Hong-Chih Kuo pitched a perfect ninth for his 11th save in 12

chances.

The Dodgers loaded the bases in the first on a bloop leadoff

single by Rafael Furcal and two four-pitch walks. Blake’s two-out

comebacker struck Jimenez on his right foot and ricocheted over

Tulowitzki’s head, allowing two runs to score.

”It hit my toe, but I was OK,” Jimenez said.

The Dodgers added a run in the ninth when A.J. Ellis’ line drive

went off second baseman Clint Barmes’ glove for an RBI single.

Lilly, who didn’t give up a hit until Gonzalez deposited his

knee-high fastball in the center field rock pile in the fourth for

his 34th homer, said he made sure to release curveball down in the

zone because it has a tendency to stay up at altitude.

”I don’t think it was necessarily all that sharp and I got away

with a few hangers,” he said. ”But we were able to get some big

outs.”

None bigger than the unassisted double play by first baseman

James Loney in the eighth, when he snared Jay Payton’s screamer

down the line and doubled up Todd Helton.

If that ball gets through, it’s probably kicking around the

right-field corner and the game’s tied.

”That play kind of changed the game right there,” Lilly

said.

And maybe the Rockies’ fortunes.

”It’s painful,” Gonzalez said, ”because we all thought we

were going to be battling until the end. We thought it was going to

be really close for everybody, but we’re making it a lot easier for

the other teams and more difficult for us.”

Notes: Jimenez finished 8-2 at Coors Field this season. The

Rockies were 11-3 in his home starts. … Dodgers OF Jay Gibbons

sat out with a sore calf.