Rockies, Dodgers continue battle in NL West

DENVER — Slumping Nolan Arenado is due back in the Colorado Rockies‘ lineup Sunday for the rubber game of their series with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Arenado did not play Saturday when the Rockies increased their lead over the Dodgers in the National League West to 1 1/2 games with a 4-2 victory.

In the race for the second NL wild-card spot, the Dodgers trail the St. Louis Cardinals by one game.

Two left-handers will oppose each other Sunday — Tyler Anderson (6-7, 4.80 ERA) of the Rockies against the Dodgers’ Rich Hill (7-5, 3.73).

Rockies manager Bud Black said giving Arenado a breather was “the right thing to do” even though it is September and the Rockies and Dodgers are battling for first place in the division.

Arenado, an all-star third baseman, is 5-for-39 in his past 10 games, with three doubles and three RBIs, and hitless in his past 13 at-bats.

“We felt giving Nolan this start off might help him move forward,” Black said. “Offensively, he just doesn’t feel right. The timing’s off. There’s some other things going on.”

Namely lingering soreness in his right shoulder, which Arenado said he feels only when throwing.

“It doesn’t hurt hitting,” Arenado said. “Throwing, it does. It’s not 100 percent throwing. It’s not going to be good throwing probably until the year is over, until next season. Those questions (about the shoulder), hopefully we can stop with those ones. I have to deal with it. I can play through it, and I’m going to continue to play through it.”

Black told Arenado that he would not start Saturday after Friday night’s game in which he went 0-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts, and didn’t hit the ball out of the infield.

“I don’t make those calls,” Arenado said of Black’s decision to rest him for a day. “I don’t want it. But I’m not playing well. That’s why I’m not playing today.

“It’s obviously extremely disappointing. I don’t make the lineup. I want to be out there. I voiced that. But at the same time, I’m not performing. It is what it is.”

Before Monday, the Rockies had lost seven straight games started by Anderson, and he was 0-4 with an 8.31 ERA in those outings. That losing streak ended in Anderson’s no-decision Monday when the Rockies beat the San Francisco Giants 9-8. Anderson allowed six hits and three runs in 5 1/3 innings with no walks and seven strikeouts.

Anderson has made 10 straight starts without a win since his last victory July 4. The Rockies are 11-17 when he takes the mound.

Anderson is 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA in three starts against the Dodgers this year, the last Aug. 9 at Coors Field in a no-decision when he held them to one run and four hits in six innings in Colorado’s 8-5 loss. In 10 career starts against the Dodgers, Anderson is 3-3 with a 3.81 ERA.

The Dodgers were originally scheduled to start left-hander Alex Wood on Sunday and pitch Hill on Monday in Cincinnati but flipped those assignments. Hill will be working on regular rest after winning his last start Tuesday against the New York Mets when he gave up four runs in six innings of the Dodgers’ 11-4 victory.

The Dodgers are 9-10 in starts this season by Hill. Two of the losses came against the Rockies, and Hill was 0-1 with a 2,13 ERA in those games, one of which was at Coors Field. He is 0-4 with a 5.45 ERA in six career starts versus Colorado, including 0-2 with a 7.17 ERA in four career starts.

Like Hill, Wood has a poor history at Coors Field, where his career ERA is 9.75. But he has a 1.32 ERA in two starts at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, where he will start on extra rest for the 20th time in 27 starts this season.

“This is obviously a hitter’s ballpark,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Coors Field, “but the swing-and-miss still plays here. Where the other ballpark (Cincinnati), to be able to put it on the ground, which Alex does, is a benefit.”