LOS ANGELES -- It's often said that what matters isn't how you start, but how you finish. Unfortunately for the Rockies on Wednesday night, the finish -- a 6-4 loss to the Dodgers in the series finale at Dodger Stadium -- didn't measure up to the game's unlikely beginning.
Then again, it would have been tough to match the start the Rockies had.
Leadoff hitter Eric Young Jr. clubbed the fourth pitch of the game off the center field wall, where Matt Kemp misjudged its carom off the padding. As Kemp sprinted back towards the infield to retrieve it, Young rounded third. He touched home far ahead of the relay throw for an inside-the-park home run, the 13th in franchise history and 10th in the Majors this year.
"I didn't see it. I just knew he missed it," Young said. "Rounding second, coach waving his arms crazy, I knew we were going for it, and I wanted to make that final stretch for it.
"I just put a good swing on it, saw the trajectory and immediately put my head down. Initially I was out of the box thinking double."
Colorado's hot start continued, as a Tyler Colvin single drove home Dexter Fowler to give the Rockies a 2-0 lead after just a half inning.
But they wouldn't finish the first with that lead. Five straight Dodgers reached base off Colorado starter Jeff Francis, including Kemp, though he wasn't on base for long.
After a Shane Victorino single and a Mark Ellis walk, Kemp drove a no-doubter deep over the left-center field wall to give Los Angeles a 3-2 lead.
"[It was] just a changeup down the middle," Francis said. "We came out swinging and I was disappointed that I couldn't shut them down that inning."
"I think when Matt hits that home run it changes the momentum," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Even one run there is huge, but he gets us three quick."
Francis settled in after relinquishing that short-lived advantage, holding the Dodgers off the board for the remaining three innings of his outing. But while the lefty recovered, his team did not. After an RBI single from DJ LeMahieu tied things up in the fourth, manager Jim Tracy handed the ball to Carlos Torres, who was greeted almost as rudely as Francis.
Torres allowed two hits and two walks to the first four batters in the fifth inning, including a Hanley Ramirez walk with the bases loaded that gave the Dodgers a 4-3 lead. They added to that lead in the sixth, sparked by another unforced error: Torres hitting No. 8 hitter Matt Treanor to lead off the inning.
"We gave them a couple of runs they didn't need to have," Tracy said. "Hitting Treanor set up the two runs they got in the sixth, we set the stage for them to get base hits and score unnecessary runs."
The Rockies added one more run off Los Angeles starter Chad Billinglsey, who got the win despite yielding four runs in 6 1/3 innings. Colorado finished the day with eight hits, including two apiece from Young, LeMahieu, and Dexter Fowler.
The four-run showing was Colorado's best this series, though it resulted in its only loss. Young was at the center of things in all three games, going 8-for-14 and scoring five of the eight runs the Rockies had in the series. And though it couldn't propel his team to victory, that memorable homer was a well-deserved moment for a player Tracy says embodies the perseverance of his young team.
"I can't say enough about the series Eric Young Jr. had," Tracy said.
If not a sweep, Young's stellar series did spark his team to its first series win at Dodger Stadium since September 2010. That the youthful Rockies took two from the high-powered Dodgers has Colorado believing they may start seeing some much better finishes in the remaining 53 games of the season and beyond.
"We had a good series offensively," Tracy said. "[It's great] for our leadoff hitter to do what he did, and you're not disappointed with how five rookies [Josh Rutledge, Wilin Rosario, Jordan Pacheco, Matt McBride and LeMahieu] went out there and played tonight."
Chelsea Janes is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.