Dodgers-Rockies Preview

Late-season surges have traditionally propelled the Colorado

Rockies into the playoffs. In the closing weeks of 2010, they’ve

spiraled out of postseason contention.

A day after being officially eliminated, the Rockies attempt to

win for just the second time in 10 games and avoid being swept by

the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday.

Colorado (83-74) surged within one game of the NL West lead

after beating the Dodgers (77-81) on Sept. 18. That victory was the

Rockies’ 13th in 15 games – a run reminiscent of their 14-1 surge

to conclude 2007, leading to their first NL pennant.

They went 20-11 down the stretch in 2009, claiming the wild card

for the second time in three years.

Colorado is ending on a different kind of run this time, with

eight losses in its last nine games. The Rockies saw their playoff

hopes officially end with Tuesday’s 9-7 loss to Los Angeles.

“We’ve been losing a lot lately because we haven’t played well,”

outfielder Seth Smith said. “Great teams who are not playing well

find ways to win games.”

Avoiding a three-game series sweep to the Dodgers may be a tall

order with the Rockies scheduled to face Clayton Kershaw (13-10,

2.91 ERA).

The 22-year-old left-hander is 4-0 with a 2.03 ERA in his last

nine starts against Colorado, with three of those victories coming

this season. He’s faced the Rockies five times this year, all

resulting in wins for the Dodgers.

Kershaw’s teammates, however, bailed him out in his most recent

outing against the Rockies – a 7-6, 11-inning win Sept. 19 in Los

Angeles. He allowed six runs – four earned – in four innings before

the offense overcame a five-run deficit and won on A.J. Ellis’

walkoff single.

He was much sharper five days later at Arizona, yielding one run

and four hits with nine strikeouts in eight innings of a 3-1

win.

Kershaw has a career-high 212 strikeouts, the most for a Dodger

since Chan Ho Park had 218 in 2001. His total is also the highest

for a lefty on the club since Fernando Valenzuela collected 242 in

1986.

“It’s cool,” Kershaw told the team’s official website. “It’s

definitely something of a benchmark to get to every year.”

The Rockies will give the ball to their own 22-year-old starter

– rookie Jhoulys Chacin (9-10, 3.26).

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 1.20 ERA in his last seven

starts, but was the hard-luck loser in Friday’s 2-1 defeat to San

Francisco. He fanned eight in seven innings, but allowed both of

the Giants’ runs on a homer by Pat Burrell in the seventh.

“You learn something every game,” Chacin told the Rockies’

official website. “Veteran guys are looking for something. You

throw it, they’re not going to miss.

“But I feel really good. I just experienced that. I’ll

learn.”

Chacin is 3-2 with a 2.73 ERA in six games – five starts –

against the Dodgers. He’s allowed one run over 15 innings to win

his last two starts against them, including a 12-2 victory Sept. 18

at Chavez Ravine.