Rox let chance to gain in West slip away in 11
Deficit at 1 1/2 games after early five-run lead disappears
LOS ANGELES -- The Rockies could have had a sweep. They were two outs away from it on Sunday at Dodger Stadium, and that meant they were two outs away from pulling to within a half-game of the National League West lead. They haven't been that close since Opening Day.
What the Rockies were forced to settle with was a 7-6, 11-inning loss to the Dodgers and a 1 1/2-game deficit in the division. Huston Street took his fifth blown save of the season in 25 chances in the ninth inning, and Manny Delcarmen was victim of first a bad hop, then a bad call at first base before he let up the game-winning single to A.J. Ellis with the bases loaded and one out.
But considering how far this Rockies team has come, and how much time is left -- 13 games -- they didn't look at Dodger Stadium as a disaster zone.
"It's obviously a tough game to lose, but I think we need to focus on the positive side of things," manager Jim Tracy said. "And that is the fact that we came in here and we're a game closer than we were when we arrived."
Colorado (82-67) sits 1 1/2 games behind the Giants, who took over the division lead with a 9-2 win over Milwaukee on Sunday. The Rockies are one game behind the second-place Padres (83-66), the division leaders at the start of the day who fell to the Cardinals, 4-1.
All three teams are off Monday, and the Rockies begin a three-game set in Arizona on Tuesday.
Both starting pitchers, Jason Hammel and Clayton Kershaw, went just four innings, but the Rockies had a one-time five-run lead. Before Hammel let up three runs in the fourth, the Rockies jumped all over Kershaw, someone they normally never hit.
Entering the day, Kershaw had never allowed run to the Rockies at Dodger Stadium. That's a 29-inning span dating to 2008. He also was 3-0 in four starts against Colorado this season.
It took Kershaw 64 pitches to navigate the first two innings, at the end of which the Rockies led, 6-1.
"The tough part, the sting part is the fact that we had a 6-1 lead," Tracy said.
It didn't last too long. Hammel let up three runs in the fourth, all with two outs, and the Dodgers were down, 6-4. Hammel, whose next start is in question, said something's been wrong with him for the last five or six starts.
Hammel, Tracy and pitching coach Bob Apodaca all said Hammel's not hurt. But Hammel said he can tell something's off.
"I feel like I'm putting in so much extra effort with my body to get my shoulder going," Hammel said. "It really just feels extremely fatigued ... it just doesn't feel right right now."
Apodaca indicated Hammel was actually throwing well because his velocity hasn't wavered, and said he just needs to find a way to work through days where he doesn't have his best stuff.
"That's the sign of a true pro," Apodaca said. "Guys who figure things out when everything isn't clicking. And that's part of growing up."
Matt Belisle, the second of seven Rockies relievers, let up a solo home run to Matt Kemp leading off the seventh, which cut the lead to one. Octavio Dotel made his Rockies debut later in the inning with a strikeout of Casey Blake, and Rafael Betancourt got the ball to Street in the ninth.
The Dodgers tied the score at 6 in the bottom of the ninth on back-to-back, one-out doubles from Rafael Furcal and Kemp.
"They got a lot of talent over in that other locker room and they didn't quit the entire series," Street said. "There wasn't one game they laid down for us."
The Rockies' best chance came a half-inning before the Dodgers won. Colorado put four men on base in the top of the 11th against Jonathan Broxton and none scored. A double play from pinch-hitter Eric Young eliminated one baserunner, and three more were stranded when lefty George Sherrill came on and struck out Carlos Gonzalez swinging.
"I sent him up there because of how fast he is," Tracy said of his decision not to bunt with Young, who is hard to double up. "If in fact we do bunt, Seth Smith [the next hitter] is gone. They're going to walk him. ... I simply wanted Seth Smith up there to take some whacks."
Things took a sour turn for Delcarmen from the first batter. Reed Johnson's sharp grounder took an in-between hop in front of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and went for a single.
Furcal, the winning run, reached on a fielder's choice that Tracy argued should have been a double play. Johnson was forced out at second base, but first-base umpire Jim Reynolds ruled that Furcal beat Tulowitzki's relay throw to first. Replays showed Furcal was out.
"I kind of reacted a little bit," Delcarmen said. "I think I said, 'No way.' I didn't think it was a time to run over there - we used a lot of pitchers today ... I know he was out."
A Kemp single and intentional walk to Andre Ethier loaded the bases for Ellis. His liner on a full count was hit over Tulowitzki and the drawn-in infield. Ellis, the Dodgers' backup who had entered the game in extra innings, went 7-for-8 in the series.
"We didn't get A.J. Ellis out the entire series," Tracy said.
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.