DENVER (AP) — After sending one shot over the fence for a home run, A.J. Ellis had Colorado left fielder Carlos Gonzalez backpedaling again in the ninth inning.
The last time, though, Gonzalez managed to corral Ellis’ drive on the warning track with his back against the wall.
The long flyout was one of several near misses by the Dodgers in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Rockies. Colorado took two of three from the NL West leaders in extending a tough stretch for Los Angeles, which has lost six of its last seven games.
“This is a great team,” Ellis said. “We play hard and rally behind each other. I don’t think there’s a person here pushing a panic button or anything like that. You know that it’s a grind. Someone said to me we’re officially through the first third of the season. We’ve got two-thirds to go, and I think our first third was pretty good.”
It came close to being even a little better.
After Ellis’ two-run homer off Alex White (2-3) in the seventh, the Dodgers had two on with two out when pinch-hitter Alex Castellanos grounded sharply off reliever Matt Belisle. Second baseman D.J. LeMahieu made a diving stop and got Castellanos by a step with his throw to first to end that threat.
“Thought it was a double, possibly,” Castellanos said. “He just snagged it. Made a great play on it. Nothing much you can do about that.”
With one out in the ninth, Ellis sent an offering from Rafael Betancourt deep to left, but just shy of clearing the wall.
“I knew I squared it up,” Ellis said. “I was little bit out in front of it, but you just hope.”
Tony Gwynn Jr. followed Ellis’ deep fly ball out with a drive to right that Michael Cuddyer caught at the warning track for the game’s last out as Betancourt earned his 10th save in 11 chances.
“We played a good game (Saturday). We played a solid game today,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “We only got three hits. It’s hard to win a game. We’re OK. We’ve just got to hang in there.
“This game is a turn-the-page game,” Mattingly added.
The Dodgers could take some encouragement from another solid performance from starter Nathan Eovaldi (0-2). He allowed three runs on five hits in 5 2-3 innings in his second start this season since moving into the rotation for injured Ted Lilly, who’s on the disabled list with a left shoulder inflammation.
“My command over all three of my pitches wasn’t quite there, like it was the other day, but I felt good overall,” said Eovaldi, who struck out four and walked four. “I felt I located my fastball well. I wish I would have limited my walks more.”
The Rockies scored an unearned run in the first, aided by Ellis’ passed ball, and added two more runs in the sixth with two out on a single by Todd Helton and a double by Jordan Pacheco.
White held the Dodgers scoreless until the seventh when he walked James Loney with one out and Ellis connected for his sixth homer of the season.
“He he did a good job attacking the zone,” Ellis said of White. “He was using both of his fastballs — two-seamer and four seamer — and the last time we played him, he probably didn’t show as much velocity as he showed today. He was attacking, mixed in his offspeed when he needed to, but mainly it was just a lot of heaters and staying very aggressive.”
Pacheco’s double in the sixth finished Eovaldi, who threw 102 pitches in 5 2-3 innings. White came within one out of matching his career high of seven innings and got 13 outs on ground balls.
NOTES: SS Dee Gordon was back in the leadoff spot for the Dodgers on Sunday for the first time since May 19. He had been switched to No. 8 in the order but was returned to the top spot after batting .308 in the last 10 days. … Mattingly said before the game that outfielder Juan Rivera, on the 15-day disabled list since May 9 with a hamstring strain, could be activated as soon as Monday, when the team opens a four-game series against the Phillies. … Ellis has a seven-game hitting streak.