Blackmon homers, Gray pitches Rockies past Dodgers 5-3

DENVER (AP) — Jon Gray and Clayton Kershaw turned Coors Field into a pitcher’s park for one night. Charlie Blackmon showed the hitters are still dangerous in the thin air.

Gray pitched effectively into the seventh inning and Blackmon homered to lead the Colorado Rockies past the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 on Saturday.

Gray (9-5) allowed three runs, two earned, and struck out eight over 6 2/3 innings to give Colorado’s tired bullpen some rest. He outdueled Kershaw, who was cruising until an error started a three-run rally in the sixth.

After nine straight games of unprecedented offense at Coors Field — the Rockies and their opponents combined for 170 runs — the pitchers were in control this time.

“We went through a rough stretch. We weren’t really picking up the offense at all,” Gray said. “I just feel like it’s our time to step up for the team and really give our best.”

Gray did that with some big pitches in tough situations. He struck out Max Muncy in the first inning with a runner on second and got Kiké Hernández to pop up with a runner on third to end the fourth.

“Jon Gray did such a good job today it’s hard to tell you how important for us to keep that game close,” Blackmon said. “For him to pitch well and give us such length when our bullpen is tired out — just a good start by him.”

Gray kept it close until the Dodgers’ leaky defense helped Colorado take the lead. An error by Muncy at second started things, and Nolan Arenado tied the game with a single. After Ian Desmond singled off Hernandez’s glove at shortstop to load the bases, Mark Reynolds‘ two-out, two-run single put the Rockies up by two after six.

“When you give that team outs in this ballpark, the momentum shifts and you just kind of extend innings,” Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts. “That play to Muncy and obviously the Kiké play, it was a tough play but it’s a play that he makes, and at that point in time you’re out of the inning and things change.”

The Dodgers threatened in the seventh but Jairo Diaz struck out Justin Turner with two on to end the inning.

Alex Verdugo had two hits and Edwin Rios got his first major league hit and drove in a run for the Dodgers.

Scuffling closer Wade Davis got three outs for his 12th save in 14 chances.

Kershaw (7-2) needed only 89 pitches to get through seven innings. He struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter, but gave up five runs — four earned. He added a single in two at-bats.

Pat Valaika, who had two hits, led off the third with a single and Blackmon followed with his 19th homer to give Colorado a 2-1 lead.

Kershaw said he shook off catcher Austin Barnes to throw a curveball, and Blackmon hit it into the Rockies bullpen.

“That was the last thing Barnsie called and I should have listened to him,” Kershaw said. “I felt confident about the curveball there and I felt it was a decent one. He hit it well, so it was obviously the wrong pitch to throw.”

When told it was the first time a left-hander hit a regular-season home run off Kershaw’s curveball, according to Inside Edge, Blackmon shrugged.

“That’s interesting. I guess it doesn’t count,” he said. “You have to do it twice or it doesn’t count.”

Los Angeles tied it in the fourth on Rios’ RBI triple and took the lead in the fifth on Verdugo’s single.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rockies: SS Trevor Story (right thumb sprain) was in the lineup for Triple-A Albuquerque. He is eligible to come off the 10-day injured list Sunday but will have one more rehab start and join the team Tuesday.

NFL EUROPE

The New York Yankees’ 17-13 win over Boston in London on Saturday had Roberts shaking his head. “That’s unbelievable,” he said before his team’s game. “Was that the Giants vs. the Patriots or the Jets vs. the Patriots?”

ARENADO RETURNS A FAVOR

Sam Grayston, a 17-year-old high school baseball player from Laguna Hills, California, got the thrill of a lifetime when he fielded grounders from Arenado during the offseason a few years ago. Saturday the two reunited when Arenado hosted Grayston at Coors Field through Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Grayston, diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at birth, toured the clubhouse and took batting practice before the game.

“He’s just been speechless,” Grayston’s mom, Laurie, said. “He’s trying to play it cool, but he just can’t wipe that smile off his face.”

UP NEXT

Dodgers RHP Kenta Maeda (7-4) faces RHP Chi Chi González (0-1) in the series finale Sunday.