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    Dodgers swap leads with Rockies, wind up on losing end
    • June 29, 2023

    DENVER — In the age of eight-man bullpens, it’s still possible to be caught short-handed – especially at Coors Field.

    Dodgers manager Dave Roberts acknowledged before Wednesday night’s game that “a few guys” in the bullpen would not be available based on recent usage. Brusdar Graterol and Evan Phillips were clearly in that group, so Roberts tried to husband his high-leverage resources (Yency Almonte and Caleb Ferguson).

    But leverage arrives at unexpected times at altitude. Roberts turned to Victor Gonzalez and Nick Robertson to shepherd a two-run lead through the sixth inning. They couldn’t do it, allowing five runs as the Colorado Rockies came from behind to beat the Dodgers, 9-8.

    “Offensively, we were fantastic all night long and scored enough to win,” Roberts said. “It was just that sixth inning got away from us. You’re short-handed with some guys, some leverage guys, but you still have to go out there with the guys you have and make pitches and tonight we just couldn’t do that.”

    Michael Grove got the start, the Dodgers hoping to avoid a full-out bullpen game by getting bulk innings from the rookie right-hander. He gave them five, though they were littered with baserunners.

    Three singles in the second inning produced a run for the Rockies – but it could have been more. C.J. Cron led off with a single and was thrown out at third, appearing to be running at less than full throttle, when Nolan Jones sliced a hit down the third base line against a shifted Dodgers defense.

    An inning later, Grove gave up three runs on four more hits and a walk. The runs scored on soft singles by Elias Diaz and Randal Grichuk, which left the bat at 68 and 65.6 mph, respectively.

    Meanwhile, the Dodgers didn’t have a hit until the fourth inning against Rockies starter Kyle Freeland – though they drew four walks before Miguel Rojas’ one-out single in the fourth. A bases-loaded walk of Jonny De Luca forced in one run and a broken-bat single by Yonny Hernandez drove in two more.

    Freeland’s next pitch was clobbered by Mookie Betts for a three-run home run. His 20th homer of the season capped a six-run inning that put the Dodgers on top, 6-4.

    “Looking for a strike,” Betts said. “I don’t have very much success off him so getting deep into counts with him is not good for me. I was just looking for a strike to hit and be ready to hit.”

    It all came apart in the bottom of the sixth.

    Gonzalez struck out left-handed Nolan Jones, the high point of his outing. Grichuk singled again and went to third on a pinch-hit double by Jorge Alfaro. Ahead in the count 1-and-2, Gonzalez hit the No. 9 hitter, Brenton Doyle, with a pitch to load the bases.

    Roberts called in the rookie Robertson, turning the switch-hitting Jurickson Profar around to bat left-handed. It didn’t matter. He walked, forcing in a run.

    “You go with the matchups and who you feel is fresh,” Roberts said. “That’s just kind of where we’re at.”

    Robertson gave up a long fly ball to center field by Ezequiel Tovar. James Outman got a bad jump on the drive, which carried over his head for a three-run double. Two batters later, Diaz made it a five-run inning and a three-run lead with an RBI single.

    “It wasn’t a great read,” Outman said of his break on Tovar’s drive. “I saw the ball down and didn’t think it was a pitch he could really drive. But he got the barrel on it.”

    The Dodgers got two of those back in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Hernandez (his third RBI of the night) and an RBI single by Freddie Freeman. J.D. Martinez came up with the bases loaded in a one-run game.

    “That’s the situation we want,” Betts said. “Unfortunately it didn’t happen. But if you draw it up, that’s kind of how you draw it up and then you just let the chips fall where they may.”

    They fell the Rockies’ way. Martinez struck out and the Dodgers went down in order in the ninth.

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    ​ Orange County Register