Clayton Kershaw labored through 6 2-3 innings, throwing a career-high 125 pitches without retiring the side in order at any point in the game. Yet he was able to make the right pitches at the right time and grind out another impressive victory.
"I think pitching with guys on base and battling is more fatiguing than going 1-2-3 and throwing 150 pitches," Kershaw said. "When situations get a little more difficult, I think I'm definitely able to calm down a little bit more than I was a year or two ago. I think that just comes with starting a lot of games and getting that experience under your belt from pitching in tougher situations."
Kershaw (12-4) allowed two runs and eight hits and struck out six in his 105th big league start. The 23-year-old left-hander, who appeared in his first All-Star game two weeks earlier, is 7-0 with a 1.65 ERA in his last 10 starts at Dodger Stadium, where he hasn't lost since St. Louis beat him 9-2 on April 16.
Kershaw's overall ERA is 2.72. The only other time he threw at least 120 pitches was April 21 against Atlanta, when he made 122 over 8 2-3 innings in a game the Dodgers won 5-3 in 12.
"He's grown as a pitcher. That's what you're supposed to do — get better and better every year. And that's what he's doing," Kemp said. "He's becoming a great pitcher, one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball, and he's going deep into games. I looked up in the fifth inning and he had like 90-something pitches, but he pulled out two more for us."
Matt Guerrier retired all four batters he faced and Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his second save in three attempts. Regular closer Javy Guerra got the night off after posting a victory and two saves the previous three days.
Jhoulys Chacin (8-8) was charged with three runs — one earned — and three hits in six innings. The right-hander is 0-4 with a 4.87 ERA in seven starts since winning his previous three outings, including a 6-5 decision over the Dodgers in which he pitched eight scoreless innings of three-hit ball before the bullpen gave up five runs in the ninth.
"I threw better tonight and I was commanding my fastball. That made me happy," Chacin said. "The only thing you can do is do your job, and whatever happens happens."
The Rockies scored their first run in the fifth when Todd Helton drove in Dexter Fowler with Colorado's third straight two-out single. It ended a string of 27 consecutive innings in which Kershaw did not allow an earned run. He was lifted after Helton's seventh-inning groundout drove in the Rockies' second run.
The first two batters Kershaw faced broke their bats hitting ground balls. Jonathan Herrera reached safely when Juan Rivera dropped the throw from shortstop Rafael Furcal and Helton walked. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch, but they had to stay put on Troy Tulowitzki's groundout to first base, and were stranded when Ty Wigginton struck out on a high fastball.
Wigginton has only four RBIs in 58 at-bats over his last 20 games, and is batting just .173 with runners in scoring position this season (14 for 81).
"We did a very good job of creating scoring opportunities for ourselves against one of the better pitchers in the league. But when we got those opportunities, we left them stranded," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.
Wigginton's evening got worse when he camped under Furcal's lazy flyball leading off the fourth and dropped it trying to make a one-handed catch. Los Angeles capitalized with the first three runs of the game, two of which were unearned. Kemp doubled home two, got to third on a groundout and scored on a sacrifice fly by Juan Rivera, as second baseman Ellis backpedaled out to short right field and made the catch before falling backwards over the oncoming Spilborghs — who hit the deck to avoid him.
"We played with some intensity, but we didn't play well enough to win," Tracy said. "We dropped a flyball in the only inning that they scored, and I'm not so sure where that inning would have gone if we didn't."
Chacin is 3-2 with a 0.79 ERA in his last five starts against Los Angeles, including three scoreless outings in which he went eight innings twice and seven the other time.
"Chacin is a great pitcher. He knows what he's doing out there," Kemp said. "It was just one of those unfortunate situations for him tonight, where people made mistakes behind him and we capitalized. We scored on their mistakes. Wigginton dropped that flyball letting Furky get on, when we got a walk, then we got them in and they tripped over each other and we scored another run. That turned out to be the winning run."
Notes: The Rockies placed five-time All-Star Jason Giambi on the 15-day DL Tuesday, after he strained his left quad running to first base as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning Monday. ... Rivera started in place of 1B James Loney, who got the night off after going 4 for 43 with just two RBIs over his previous 15 games. ... Dodgers 3B Juan Uribe, 0 for 15 lifetime against Chacin with six strikeouts, missed his third straight game due to a lower abdominal strain. ... Spilborghs was 0 for 3 against Kershaw, and is 6 for 36 lifetime against him.