DENVER (AP) — Tony Gonsolin had a rough major league debut last month. His second act went much better and helped save the Los Angeles bullpen.
Gonsolin came on in the sixth inning and finished the game for his first career save, and the Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies 9-4 on Tuesday night.
The 25-year-old right-hander profiles as a starter but looked strong in his first relief appearance in the majors. He didn’t give up a hit until the Rockies strung together three with two outs in the ninth.
“I try to go into it with the same mindset — attack and get strike one and still throw all my pitches,” Gonsolin said.
Kristopher Negron homered in his first at-bat with Los Angeles, one of four by the Dodgers. A.J. Pollock, Russell Martin and Justin Turner also went deep. Los Angeles became the first team in the majors to reach 70 wins and increased its lead in the NL West to 15 games over San Francisco.
Gonsolin’s only other appearance came in a start at Arizona on June 26th when he allowed six runs — four earned — in four innings. He was nearly unhittable Tuesday, retiring the first 11 batters he faced before two singles and an RBI double by the Rockies.
His outing allowed manager Dave Roberts to rest the rest of the bullpen during a 13-game stretch without a day off.
“Today was awesome, especially at Coors Field,” catcher Russell Martin said. “Sometimes guys don’t have their stuff but he was lights out today. If you can do it here you can do it anywhere.”
It might not be enough to keep Gonsolin on the 25-man roster with righty Dylan Floro expected to be activated Wednesday.
“Tony might be a casualty,” Roberts said.
Rockies starter Kyle Freeland struggled again. The left-hander, who was fourth in NL Cy Young Award voting last season after winning 17 games, is 2-9 with a 7.48 ERA. He set a club record with a 2.84 ERA in 2018 but hasn’t struggled with his command this year. He spent six weeks in Triple-A to try to work on his mechanics.
He was recalled July 13 and was coming off his best start since opening day but couldn’t duplicate the success he had against Cincinnati.
“Overall I’ve felt fine,” he said. “There have been some mechanical issues but I start making pitches then they hit them and things pile up. I know what I have to do, I’m just not doing it.”
Colorado fell to 6-18 in July and has lost 24 of 34 since late June to fall eight games below .500.
Pollock led off the game with a homer as part of a three-run first inning. Negron, who was acquired from Seattle on Sunday, hit his first home run of the season leading off the second, and Martin hit Freeland’s next pitch into the Colorado bullpen.
Tyler White gave Los Angeles a 7-0 lead with a two-run single in the third and Turner’s two-run homer off Chad Bettis in the fourth made it 9-3.
Colorado scored three runs in the third on RBI doubles by Nolan Arenado and Ian Desmond and a run-scoring single by Daniel Murphy.
Casey Sadler (1-0) tossed 2 1/3 innings in relief of Julio Urías to get the win.
Dodgers: RHP Ross Stripling (biceps tendinitis) played catch from about 90 feet Tuesday, and manager Dave Roberts said he didn’t experience any pain. Roberts said Stripling will likely miss his next turn in the rotation.
Rockies: OF Charlie Blackmon (back tightness) was out of the lineup for the third straight game. Blackmon hurt himself working out in Cincinnati on Saturday night and pinch-hit Sunday.
One bright spot for Colorado was reliever Bryan Shaw’s two innings of relief. Shaw faced seven batters, fanning six and walking one. After a forgettable 2018 season he has become one of the Rockies’ best relievers and could draw some interest ahead of Wednesday’s trade deadline.
“I think everyone does to some extent,” he said. “Talking to (pitching coach Darren Holmes), one of the issues over the past few weeks is thinking about that. We talked about it and tried to get it out of my head.”
Dodgers LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (11-2, 1.74) faces Rockies RHP German Marquez (10-5, 4.88) to wrap up the three-game series. Ryu has allowed just four runs over his last four starts while Marquez has won his last two outings after giving up 11 runs in 2 2/3 innings against San Francisco.
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