The Colorado Rockies are hoping to ride Troy Tulowitzki’s phenomenal homer streak right into the postseason.
Tulowitzki hit two more home runs Saturday — tying a modern major league record with 14 in a 15-game stretch — and the Rockies kept up their pursuit of a playoff spot by routing the Los Angeles Dodgers 12-2 for their 20th victory in 26 games.
”I really don’t have words to describe what we’re seeing from Troy Tulowitzki,” manager Jim Tracy said. ”I mean, how do you describe 14 homers in 15 games? You know, it’s one thing to be hot, and another to be in a zone like this guy is in. But he has that type of mentality. He loves this time of the year, and he’s proven that going back to 2007.”
The Rockies are a game back of San Diego in the NL West and 2 1/2 behind Atlanta in the wild-card race.
Tulowitzki has four multihomer games this season — all of them within his last 10 games — and is hitting .394 with 35 RBIs in his last 16 contests. He joined Albert Belle (1995) and Barry Bonds (2001) as the only players since 1900 to homer 14 times in a span of 15 games.
”That’s awesome. But I think the timing of it — coming down the stretch here — is what definitely makes me a lot happier with it because it’s huge for our team,” Tulowitzki said. ”If you had to pick one time to do it, it would be now. So I’m definitely proud of that.
”I might not play any better than this in my entire career, so it’s something that I’ll always remember,” he added. ”But for right now, I’m not done with this.”
The Rockies’ shortstop hit a two-run homer in the first inning, doubled in the third and added another two-run shot in the fifth against rookie John Ely. Tulowitzki fouled out with the bases loaded in the eighth, but Melvin Mora hit a grand slam later in the inning. Mora also singled home a run. His five RBIs were one off his career best with Baltimore in 2008.
Tulowitzki got the Rockies rolling after a two-out walk in the first to NL batting leader Carlos Gonzalez, then hit a first-pitch homer to center field for his 26th of the season after another walk to Gonzalez in the fifth.
”The guy who hits in front of him, you try to be careful and then you realize that you’re up against this guy,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. ”He makes such a difference in that ballclub, not only with the ability he has on the field but his leadership as well. He’s a special young man and he gives them a great deal of energy over there.”
Gonzalez, batting .341, also leads the league with 184 hits and 328 total bases. And his 106 RBIs give opposing teams plenty of incentive to pitch around him. He’s drawn 38 walks, eight of which have been intentional.
”I wouldn’t say they’re not pitching to Carlos,” Tulowitzki said. ”We’ve just faced a lot of right-handers lately, and common sense says the righty-righty matchup is better.”
Ryan Spilborghs had an RBI single in the fifth to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 12 games. In five of those games, Spilborghs kept the streak going as a pinch-hitter.
”When you’ve got a talented group of guys like this, it’s not a shock to see guys go on hitting streaks and it’s not a surprise to see guys get hot like Cargo (Gonzalez) and Tulo,” Spilborghs said. ”I mean, there’s a lot more talent in here than a lot of people ever give us credit for. We’ve had streaks like this in three of the last four years because we’re good, not because we’re lucky.”
Jhoulys Chacin (9-9) threw 111 pitches over eight innings and was pulled three outs shy of his first big league shutout and complete game. The 22-year-old righty scattered nine hits, struck out two and did not allow a walk in his 20th career start.
”If they let me pitch one more inning, I could have, because I felt much better in the eighth than I did in the first seven innings,” Chacin said. ”But that’s their decision. I just wanted to get a win, no matter of I threw a complete game or not.”
Chacin escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fifth, throwing a sinker to get Ryan Theriot to ground into a double play. Theriot has just four hits in his last 45 at-bats.
Russ Mitchell hit a two-run homer for the Dodgers in the ninth against Franklin Morales.
Ely (4-8) gave up six runs on five hits and five walks in 4 1-3 innings. The 24-year-old righty is in his second stint with the Dodgers this season. He was inserted into the rotation because of Vicente Padilla’s season-ending neck injury.
NOTES: Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw will start Sunday’s series finale with a string of 29 consecutive scoreless innings against the Rockies at Dodger Stadium. … Matt Kemp hasn’t homered in his 23 games and 81 at-bats since his 449-foot solo shot at Milwaukee against Dave Bush. Andre Ethier has homered only twice in 70 at-bats over his last 20 games. Kemp and Ethier lead the Dodgers with 22 homers each, after combining for 57 last season.