LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Dodgers’ inconsistent offense is starting to show holes again, and the Colorado Rockies’ struggling pitching staff has found them — particularly with runners in scoring position.
Los Angeles is 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position over the last two games against a staff that entered this series with a major league-worst 5.51 ERA — in addition to allowing the most runs, hits and homers in the majors. The only run for the Dodgers in Tuesday night’s 3-1 loss came on a double by James Loney that scored Hanley Ramirez from first base.
“We did have some opportunities and actually hit some balls on the nose, but we didn’t get it done as far as getting the big hit,” manager Don Mattingly said. “I had a sense that the guys were trying too hard for me tonight, trying to force it and make things happen. We just want them to make sure they’re relaxed and keep it simple.”
Aaron Harang (7-7) was charged with three runs and six hits in six-plus innings. The right-hander escaped bases-loaded jams in the first and fifth — the latter on an inning-ending double play by rookie Jordan Pacheco. But that came three batters after rookie Josh Rutledge doubled home the first run of the game.
“They’re playing well and they’re battling us,” Harang said. “I’ve been on teams like that where you have nothing to lose, so they’ve been coming out hard. They’re scraping runs together and their pitching’s been holding us down.”
Josh Roenicke (4-0) pitched three innings of scoreless, one-hit relief for the victory. The right-hander took over for Alex White, who threw 80 pitches in four innings and allowed one hit and five walks before he was lifted for a pinch-hitter.
“He continues to have a terrific season for us,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said about Roenicke. “I think what’s noteworthy is that he’s done a much better job of pounding the strike zone. His stock just keeps improving.”
It was the fifth straight game in which a Rockies starter didn’t reach the fifth. In the series opener Monday night, Drew Pomeranz threw 84 pitches over four innings and was lifted with a two-run lead before Adam Ottavino and the bullpen closed out a 2-0 victory. Tracy has been using a four-man rotation, so every starter is restricted to about 75 pitches.
“It’s a little different, that’s for sure,” Mattingly said. “It’s a little bit more like a spring training game, because you’re not getting the same type of look from the second guy that you got from the starter. But we’ve seen this White a couple of times, we’ve seen Roenicke, we’ve seen Pomeranz and (Ottavino). So you can prepare. There’s plenty of video and preparation to be able to know what a guy’s throwing.”
Rutledge had three doubles among his career-high four hits and drove in three runs. Rafael Betancourt, the fifth Rockies pitcher, worked a perfect ninth for his 19th save in 23 attempts.
One of Rutledge’s doubles drove in two runs in the seventh after Shawn Tolleson relieved Harang. The 23-year-old shortstop, getting a chance to play because of Troy Tulowitzki’s groin injury, has 18 RBIs in 22 games since his promotion from Double-A Tulsa right after the All-Star break. His total includes home runs in four consecutive games last week.
“He has played tremendously for us,” Tracy said. “When this guy squares a ball up, I can tell you it makes a different sound. It gets off the bat in a hurry.”
The Dodgers had a scare in the second inning when Ramirez fouled a ball hard enough off his left foot that Mattingly and a trainer came out to check on him. Ramirez completed his at-bat after limping back to the plate and grounded a single through the left side of the infield — hobbling all the way to first base.
Los Angeles loaded the bases in the third on three walks, including a two-out intentional pass to Andre Ethier, but Ramirez flied out.
NOTES: The cap-slamming, profanity-laced rant that got Tracy ejected by umpire Mike Everitt on Monday has become an Internet sensation — thanks mostly to Dodgers Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, who did a priceless lip-reading blow-by-blow account of Tracy’s 5-plus minute tirade while substituting all the curse words with cleaner synonyms. “That was brought to my attention,” said Tracy, whose managed the Dodgers for five seasons and sat next to Scully on the team charter during road trips. “My wife told me: `You might want to take a peek at that.’ He did a pretty good job, didn’t he? But nothing surprises me with the way Vin does his duties — nothing. He is one of the most beautiful people that I’ve ever had the pleasure of being around. He’s so articulate and so well-spoken and such a gentleman.” … Harang is 0-3 with a 5.14 ERA in four starts this season when pitching on at least six days’ rest.