Baseball / Sports

On the road, Dodgers are high and mighty

DENVER -- Don Mattingly had to expand his vocabulary -- at least for one night.

Ripped by their disgusted manager at the end of a homestand that featured six losses in the last eight games, the Los Angeles Dodgers gave him something to be happier about on the road Friday night, beating the sinking Colorado Rockies 7-2.

"So?" Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez said when asked about Mattingly's criticism at home Wednesday. "We were not playing good. If you don't like it, play better."

Sounds simple for a $250 million roster to accomplish.

Left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu laid the groundwork, pitching six strong innings in his first taste of Coors Field. Though they have now lost seven in a row and 11 of their past 13, the Rockies went into the game averaging 6.6 runs per game at home with a .335 batting average and .935 OPS, all major-league highs -- a loaded term, considering Denver's altitude and Colorado's new growth industry.

Ryu had heard the horror stories about the difficulty of pitching in Denver, but he held the Rockies scoreless through five innings.

"I could tell right away why a lot of pitchers don't like pitching here," Ryu said through his translator. The humidor-prepared baseballs felt "slicker" and more difficult to grip, making breaking balls more difficult to spin.

"Because it's such a hitters' park, you have to keep the ball down here."

He did that until a home run by Drew Stubbs in the sixth inning. By then, the Dodgers' offense that seemed to sleepwalk through much of the homestand had been sparked to life by Dee Gordon.

Gordon was on base four times, including twice on triples. He drove in a run with his second triple, drove in two more with a single and scored twice. He also stole a base (his 36th) and now leads the National League in steals and triples (six).

Ramirez, batting second, drove Gordon in twice with a ground out and a single (and stole two bases himself).

"It was just great getting on base, giving us a chance to win," said Gordon, who suffered through a stretch in May when he didn't do much of that. Over 20 games before Wednesday, Gordon hit .171, watching his average lose 60 points.

This time, it was the middle of the Dodgers' lineup failing to carry its share. Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp were a combined 2 for 12, with Kemp's single seeming to offer the latest metaphor for the way the Dodgers' talent has failed to mesh on the field.

Leading off the seventh inning, Kemp hit a long drive to center field that he clearly thought was a home run. First-base coach Davey Lopes shared that assessment, sticking his hand out for a low-five as Kemp jogged by.

On a windy night, though, Kemp's drive bounced off the top of the wall. He had to kick it in gear to reach base safely -- but came off the base on his slide and was tagged out. The call was reviewed on replay by the umpires.

"That's a technicality of instant replay that I don't like," Mattingly said. "He's basically safe there. He's just standing up.

"It's not as if he's trying to avoid a tag and comes off the bag. He's just standing up. I don't like that part of it."

(c)2014 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)

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