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Rockies 9, Dodgers 6: Hilliard, Blackmon lift Rockies with late-inning blasts

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Blackmon’s sixth homer of 2021 cements a series-opening win in extras

Colorado has earned themselves their 10th road win of the season in an all-around team effort—capped by the late-inning heroics of Sam Hilliard and Charlie Blackmon.

43,730 fans inside Dodger Stadium were sent through a roller coaster of emotions tonight that only a win probability chart can represent:

Image courtesy of FanGraphs

The ninth inning curse on the Dodger Stadium mound was again on display Friday night. The blood pressure adventure by Daniel Bard in the ninth looked painstakingly dismal at first, but surprisingly momentous after he struck out the side to close regulation. A 10th-inning homer by Charlie Blackmon put Colorado in the driver’s seat, and Lucas Gilbreath’s first career MLB save capped off a three-run victory.

A series at Dodger Stadium is seldom forgiving, but the Rockies have opened this set on a distinct high note.

First inning: Dodgers cut deep

L.A drew first blood in the contest in their first five batters. Chris Taylor got things going with a leadoff double and Will Smith traded placed with him with another double. Cody Bellinger hit the third two-bagger of the inning and a Matt Beaty single give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead, just after starter David Price tossed three consecutive flyouts in his first frame.

Trading solo homers

Tonights game did not feature a multi-run homer until extras, but it did feature a fair amount of solo-shot fireworks. Leading off the third, Elias Días got the Rockies on the board with this blast to left:

The Dodgers would immediately answer back. Justin Turner led off the bottom of the frame with a homer of his own, and L.A. would end the inning up 4-1. The score would remain that way until this Trevor Story homer in the sixth:

String together hits

After Story’s blast, C.J Cron and Ryan McMahon worked back-to-back singles in same inning. Cody Bellinger and A.J Pollock followed up those hits with a triple and a run-scoring single of their own. Colorado would make the most of some eighth-inning work — a Garrett Hampson single, Charlie Blackmon double and Ryan McMahon single — and the later innings were highlighted in a myriad of timely team effort.

Hilliard breaks the tie

The Dodgers and Rockies were tied at five entering the ninth inning—until Sam Hilliard stepped up to the plate as a pinch hitter:

Hilliard launched one deep into the Los Angeles night, and Colorado found themselves in the driver’s seat with a 6-5 lead.

The Dodgers found themselves struggling again in the ninth inning. Thursday night’s gut-punching blow by the Giants left them with a further-depleted bullpen, and it was left-hander Darien Núñez that faced the ninth-inning struggles just hours removed from Kenley Jansen’s third consecutive blown save.

Bard breaks the Dodger silence

It didn’t take long for the Dodger Stadium faithful to regain their enthusiasm. Daniel Bard emerged from the Colorado bullpen seeking his 16th save of the year, but he allowed singles to Austin Barnes and Chris Taylor in his first two batters faced. A walk to Billy McKinney loaded the bases, and Bard did so without recording an out.

Bard walked Justin Turner immediately after. Tie game.

Colorado’s closer settled in with the winning run on third, a noteworthy effort after a wild pitch earlier in the ninth (and another would-be one to Turner if it wasn’t on ball four). Will Smith and Sheldon Neuse recorded back-to-back strikeouts with the bags still full. Bard then went upstairs with a two-strike slider to A.J. Pollock, and sat him down with his third strikeout of the inning.

Extra frames: Blackmon sends the people home

Colorado opened up the 10th inning with Garrett Hampson speed placed on second. L.A.’s Dylan Sherfy allowed a single to Story, his first batter, and the Rockies cashed in their second-base bonus runner.

Charlie Blackmon would then steal the show—and the whole ballgame.

Blackmon’s sixth dinger of the season gave the Rockies a 9-6 lead.

In the bottom of the 10th, Lucas Gilbreath sat down the Dodgers in order and collected his first career big league save.

Tonight’s ballgame ended a few ticks after midnight in Denver—and those that stayed up were deeply rewarded.

Up Next

Saturday’s matchup between the Rockies and Dodgers will feature left-handed Kyle Freeland and right-handed Tony Gonsolin on the hill. Freeland faced the Dodgers in his last start and allowed three earned runs in six innings, after allowing just three runs in his 16 innings prior. Gonsolin will make his ninth start of the year and has completed five innings in just one of those outings, but his 2.83 ERA suggests his workload has been just fine. He might see an extended leash on Saturday, however, as the Dodgers are without starters Clayton Kershaw, Dustin May and Trevor Bauer right now and their bullpen has seen some recent turmoil.

Both teams could see a taxed core of relievers after tonight’s rigors, so Colorado’s off-day recovery on Thursday could be a much-needed advantage. First pitch on Saturday night is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. MDT.